Good things, when short, are twice as good

I’m not sure that this maxim (from Gracián) applies to all the good things in life… but brevity is widely recognised as one of the core elements of good writing.  Some of the most famous pieces of writing are  under 500 words - notably the Gettysburg Address which comes in at just ten sentences and 272* words (seven of which are ‘here’).

That doesn’t mean you have to make your writing unnecessarily short.  To quote Gracián again your readers will lose sight of the meaning if you take brevity too far: “I strive to be brief, and I become obscure”.  (I wonder if he has a maxim for all occasions…?)

It does mean writing with brevity in mind, sticking to the point, and editing ruthlessly to make sure you don’t have excess words floating around.

As Hemingway said, it wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg Address was so short.  It was carefully crafted for effect.  And edited for maximum impact.

* there are a number of different versions of the speech and the precise number of words varies