Ever picked up a book, noticed its thickness, and been dubious? Maybe you even put it down for good. Or perhaps you started reading a book and discovered it was full of sentences like this:
“Wordiness, tautology, needless repetition, general garrulousness, and extensive reiteration make a string of words joined by clauses unusually abstruse, difficult to understand, and opaque for the average reader of ordinary circumstances and background.”
And that sort of thing killed your interest.
You wouldn’t be alone. It kills the interest of literary agents and publishers as well. And yet, writers continue to do it. Why? It’s an example of lazy writing – when the author cannot be bothered to sharpen their meaning – or an example of ego-stroking: the author thinks their literary abilities are dazzling. Perhaps that sounds nasty, but I effectively chastise myself by saying it. I, too, have written books that were twenty thousand words too long.
I suppose the difference is that I cut them substantially before they went anywhere. No reader deserves to have their time wasted.
Let’s beginning writers think a little bit more about our readers. Sure, we may be clever. But we can save that big word for later. It’s time to write considerately.
And it’s going to help us sell ourselves.
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