In writing, brevity works not only as a function of space on a page, but the time that an audience is willing to spend with you.
A friend sent me an excellent article this morning, with some of the most useful advice I can think of for writers. It can also be one of the least welcome suggestions:
Keep It Short.
Danny Heitman’s essay uses this pithy guidance to sum up a lot of bits writers hear when trying to improve their craft: be concise, be concrete, be on point, write for your audience, etc. This does not mean blindly banging away on the Delete button, mind you:
I frequently hear champions of brevity advising writers to cut their word counts by scratching all the adjectives or adverbs… The point of brevity isn’t to chop a certain kind of word, but to make sure that each word is essential.
Short version, keep it short. (Although I can’t help myself, here’s one more quote from the article, this time citing John Kenneth Galbraith):
The gains from brevity are obvious; in most efforts to achieve it, the worst and the dullest go. And it is the worst and the dullest that spoil the rest.
Draft your short story, essay, poem, novel or recipe, then if you have a little time, put it aside. When you come back to it fresh, make friends with that Delete button.