Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG: 300


I am not writing about 
the iconic movie 300;
but rather, about the need to limit 
IWSG posts to 300 words.


The guilt I felt when I discovered that dictum!  
I had just published my verbose June IWSG post.

Do you struggle with verbosity?
I do.

I love this antiquated Chinese character Zh√©,
meaning verbose.

it is the most complex Chinese character,
with its sixty-four strokes.

Read on, and see why that makes me laugh!

I remember my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Keast,
teaching a lesson on using adjectives in  descriptive writing.  

Wowza!  I fell in love with adjectives!  
I crafted a sentence about my house containing ~ 
I counted them ~ 
sixty-four adjectives!

I thought my sentence brilliant;  
Mr. Keast did not.  
He called my mother for a conference.  
He thought I was mocking him. 

The two sorted out my personality, 
and I learned that the liberal use of adjectives
was inadvisable.
I never wrote another sentence with sixty-four adjectives.  
I became a seeker of the succinct.

I have failed miserably many times.

Succinct writing takes effort.
and choosing the precise word
do not come easily for me.
It's a slog.

My mantra is advice
from William Strunk Jr.
who co-wrote 
the indispensable reference
The Elements of Style.

"Vigorous writing is concise."


The complete quote: 
“Vigorous writing is concise. 
A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, 
a paragraph no unnecessay sentences, 
for the same reason 
that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines 
and a machine no unnecessary parts. 
This requires not that the writer make all sentences short 
or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, 
but that every word tell.”

Make.  Every.  Word.  Count.  

Seek brevity, but without sacrificing clarity.

Thanks for the challenging dictum, IWSG!
It improves my writing.



  1. Wasn't it Winston Churchill who apologized for writing someone a long letter because he did not have the time to write a short one?

    1. Is that ever the truth! Have a good one, Debra!

  2. Replies
    1. Pretty cool, eh? No wonder its antiquated! Take care, Linda!

  3. I'm right there with you. I used to make my posts uber long because, well, I could. Then, one day I realized, oops, too many words and started chopping them down to a more reasonable length. Turns out, my posts (and my books) are better without all that filler I was using. Now, if I could just shorten my comments haha


    1. Haha! I write long comments, too! Have a good day, Elsie!

  4. Make every word count you say, but the cat likes to blither on at his bay haha so we'll just say every one counts.

    1. Way to go, Pat! The best defense is a good offense!

  5. I need to learn to be more succinct. I can go on abit

    1. Can't we all! LOL! I hope you are having a good day!

  6. That made me chuckle! I don't think your posts have ever been too wordy. Although you might win for most adjectives in a sentence.

    1. Hee hee! Thanks, Alex! I'll be making the round of IWSG posts today, since something unexpected came up yesterday! I always feel so inspired when I read your post and the others. Have a happy day!

  7. Don't we all 'fall by the wayside', Louise, when we become so passionate about a topic!! I do! I am learning though that being concise and to the point is also very attractive to the listener/reader too.......more converts to one's way of thinking maybe.
    I just saw E.B.White's name above on cover of 'Elements of Style' and it reminded me that just this afternoon I read that he and James Thurber and others were the original writers for the New Yorker back in its early days and into the 40's.

    Good luck with this will take a lot of slashing and burning to initially whittle down 'your words'.....then it will be very natural.

    1. Hi Jim! On Tuesday, I was trying to find a photo of Strunk that I could legally use (couldn't), but I did come across a good photo of White and Thurber. I read White's "Charlotte's Web" to my classes quite a few years. I hope I'll get faster at slashing for sure! Have a good one!

  8. The thing about Chinese hanzi (and Japanese kanji) characters is that even the complex ones just make new ones by making smaller versions of simple ones and mixing them together.

    1. It's pretty cool how the characters are created. I had an awesome Chinese history instructor at Cal State University ~ too bad the spelling system changed. Now I'm not sure who anyone is or where anything is! Have a good one!

  9. "Concise" as in ~~

    abrupt, bluff, blunt, boiled down, breviloquent, bright, brusque, clever, compendiary, compendious, crisp, curt, hasty, laconic, limited, little, pithy, sharp, short and sweet, skimpy, small, snippy, succinct, surly, terse, to the point, in a nutshell, epigrammatic, witty, meaty, synoptic, profound, keen, perspicacious, discriminating, valid, weighty, worthwhile, provoking, condensed, cut to the bone, abridged, pointed, well-defined, razor-sharp, distinct, consequential, eloquent, intelligible, exact, honed, essential, expressive, not protracted, well-expressed, accurate, clean, pertinent, outline, lasting, marrowy, lean, compacted, and/or reduce.

    All in good fun!

    I totally understand the need to be "exact + all those other 63 adjectives" to get a point across. I am so amateur and love trying to play with words to "feel" the situation. Sometimes it works and sometimes you just need to move forward.


    1. You crack me up, Ron! I loved this!!!!! I love to play with words too! But I'm a niggler, and I've got to get better at moving on! And you taught me a new word: breviloquent ~ how cool is that?

    2. Now to use this word ~ I'm sure you'll find the exact/perfect spot!

      Have a great weekend!

    3. You have a great weekend too, Ron!

  10. If you get too concise, you'll be texting. I like you just the way you are.

  11. Putting right adjectives are some times difficult. I find it difficult.

    1. I agree, Sangay! So many possibilities and finding the just the right one is hard! Have a happy day. Maybe it's night where you are. I just googled ~ we're twelve hours apart. Perhaps I should say, have a good sleep! LOL!

  12. Blablabla!!
    Let them dictate whaever they want!!
    They might right but the hell with it...
    Let's just be ourselves!! LOL!!!
    I had a good laugh again Fundy!!!!
    Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Thanks, Noushka! You always make my day with your kind and encouraging comments. I break rules all the time. Maybe I should write 301 words for my monthly IWSG posts, just for a fun protest! LOL! You have a great weekend too!

  13. I saw it somewhere in something Alex had written. I read it just after publishing a long IWSG post, so this newbie member felt really guilty. I don't think anyone is really counting! I'm sure readers appreciate shorter posts, so they can get around and read more on IWSG posting day. Have a happy weekend, Karen! Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Loved reading this journey into the succinct. :) I struggle with verbose tendencies too.

  15. That Chinese character truly is cool! As far as word count, it seems that I'm wordy when I shouldn't be and dried up when I need the words to flow. What's up with that?

    1. Perversity is what I call that ~ and it happens to me, too, Julie!

  16. Goodness, gracious. All that instruction on writing reminds me of the Prichard Guide to Poetry in the movie "Dead Poet's Society" that stared Robin Williams. "RIP those pages out of the book. Rip them all out." Williams instructed his class. E.B. White and Co. as journalists haven't got a stanza that has stood the test of time! :) Write freely and unfettered Louise!


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