Writing Lesson #47

Some people will never use one word when two words will do.

If composing a road sign they would write, “Bring your vehicle to a complete halt,” instead of “STOP.”

This is the sort of thing that makes editors and teachers want to beat somebody over the head with a copy of The Elements of Style. Strunk and White may be a small book, but that would still get you fired.

So, what do you tell the writer? How about this:

You are not getting paid by the word. Instead, imagine that I gave you $400 and for each word you use I will take back one dollar. You get to keep whatever you don’t spend. I bet that would convince you to cut out unnecessary words and phrases, wouldn’t it?

Remember: it’s your job to stomp out verbosity. And if my suggestion doesn’t work, let the beatings begin.

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