There is comfort in dragging a thick novel to a beach vacation. This comfort doesn’t translate well to a thousand-word email from a friend or coworker.
If you are anything like me, you will read the novel twice before ever replying to the email.
In today’s digital economy, once you have someone’s attention, you do what you can to keep it. In copywriting, fewer words are better. Get to the point fast and hard.
Campaign slogans are brief, rarely more than five words. Headlines tease curiosity with a few words but rarely make a point.
In conversation, we add words to buy time as we form our thoughts while trying to hold attention. With the right charisma, you can keep an audience all day without saying much.
The word count is the worst thing to happen to good writers. Tell someone they’re getting paid a nickel a word, and they do the math long before they create their thesis. Sentences become bloated monsters with a completely different idea near the period than what started at the capital. It is exhausting to read; I’m sure the writer isn’t bothering to re-read half the time.
We want to be remembered, we want to have influence, but most of our language isn’t designed to make this happen naturally. This is likely a good thing.
Writers tend not to trust readers and pack in loads of needless exposition.
(I’ve also seen the most compelling arguments in an article hidden in parenthesis.)
Some of us have such a command of the language, rules don’t seem to apply but we’ll read everything they put out anyway.
The rest of us need to take the time to simplify. The right word in the right place can mobilize an army.