As a writer, you (hopefully) want your audience to understand you. A good writer will lead his reader to his meaning by the most sure and direct route possible. And, if the reader chooses to take the time to read an article, she certainly hopes to derive some sort of valuable meaning from the writer’s words.
Readers and Patience – Rare Bedfellows
Readers become impatient when they have to wade through needlessly wordy or complex sentences. Economy of statement is the mark of a great writer; yet great writers never sacrifice meaning on the altar of brevity. Authentic economy of statement dictates that the writer convey his intended meaning; if the intended meaning requires many words, he’ll use many words.
To do this, you’ve got to weigh your idea before you begin writing. This will help you give the idea, not only the right words, but also the right number of words necessary to get the point across.
Ernest Hemingway had economy of statement down pat. He used words and language that precisely mirrored his meaning and his sentences reflected his skill in this technique.
Three Ways to Achieve Economy of Statement
Achieving economy of statement involves more than simply practicing grammatical devices. It’s true simplicity through understatement. Understatement represents a genuine simplicity that shines through the bare writing. It’s more a result of a writer’s attitude toward his ideas rather than some word-cutting technique.
Check out these three, self-explanatory ways to achieve simplicity in your writing:
- Reject all unnecessary words
- Use simplified, unadorned sentences
- Only add words as they contribute to your meaning
Hemingway brought readers to the image he hoped to create in their minds by using the utmost simplicity in words. Think of the architect who strives for immense beauty by working with the simplest lines and devices possible for the structure he designs. This is art. Writing is art – or can be. It takes time to approach the skill Hemingway had with economy of statement – Lord knows I’ve certainly got a long way to go.
When asked about the difficulty of writing, Hemingway once quipped, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Bleed with us: What about you? Do you actively use the three techniques above when you sit down to write? Do you sit at your computer and bleed?
Images: Bradley Cooper in Limitless, courtesy of Salon [dot] com, Hemingway, courtesy of quotationsbook [dot] com