Friday, November 20, 2015
#NaBloPoMo Day 20: Why concision is important in writing
Ernest Hemingway was once challenged, as the story goes, by his fellow writers to write a 6 word story that could make people cry. The bet was for $10 which Hemingway won for coming up with - For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. A perfect example of a poignant story which does have a beginning, a middle and an end. And a whole lot of possibilities you are left with. True work of a genius!
I attended a creative writing workshop today sponsored by Blogadda as part of Social Media Week in Mumbai. It was titled Spinning content: Writing for the Web. While the workshop threw up no specific learnings, we started with an interesting activity. It was similar to the story I just narrated. We were supposed to draw, not write, our place of origin, favourite food, hobby and where we see ourselves in 5 years. And we were to pair up and introduce our partners in 6 words which would include the information we got from the drawings. Challenging, at first. But some of us got it pretty well!
The terseness could be achieved only by stripping all the additional articles, pronouns and sometimes, even verbs. I think the more scope we are given, the more verbose we get. Concision is always a principle I have believed in and one of the important concepts that William Zinsser talks about in his very inspirational book, On Writing Well. By actually doing this activity and trying to fit everything in 6 words was a memorable lesson in the concept. And the result is quite brilliant because every word has a solid place in the sentence. It is not diluted by supporting syntactical structures.
Can you introduce yourself in 6 words? Preferably a sentence that makes sense rather than a string of adjectives? I am going to try writing mine tonight. Do share yours with me in comments so that the other readers can read too.