The Art of Brevity

After firing off another long missive email the other day, I tweeted a request for resources on the art of brevity. I felt fairly certain that this is one of those things you just have to practice, but wow—people came through with a LOT of suggestions. For posterity, here’s a roundup of the recommendations:

Books

The Art of Brevity list on Bookshop

Lots of books! I compiled these into a list on bookshop.org.

For transparency, that’s an affiliate link, so I’ll receive a small portion of sales from those books. Please don’t feel the need to buy from Bookshop (though they support small businesses!). Wherever you buy/borrow your books from, I do humbly ask that you avoid making *ahem* massively wealthy mono-retailers any richer.

Online Resources

Advice / Personal Process

  • Edit!!!
  • …and give yourself at least a day between writing and editing your own work.
  • Work with an editor, or peer review.
  • Cut adverbs and adjectives.
  • Cut out unnecessary words, ruthlessly.
  • Break down compound sentences and clauses.
  • Use active voice.
  • More literally, read your words aloud.
  • Or explain a concept out loud to another person—then write that down!
  • Use semantic line breaks as a “code smell” for run-on sentences.
  • Have clarity of purpose.
  • Ask yourself: “Do people need to know that at this point?”

What are your favorite tips on brevity? Feel free to chime in on Twitter or shoot me an email!

Responses

My blog uses Webmentions. Responses from sites which likewise support Webmentions, such as Twitter or people’s personal sites, will show up here.

No Webmentions have been sent to this post yet.