Monday, October 6, 2014

You can say a lot in only 100 words

Elizabeth Warren

If you write concisely, you can say a lot in only 100 words. Here are three examples:

Henry Hazlitt on Karl Marx

“The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are. Never under any circumstances admit that his success may be due to his own efforts, to the productive contribution he has made to the whole community. Always attribute his success to the exploitation, the cheating, the more or less open robbery of others. Never under any circumstances admit that your own failure may be owing to your own weakness, or that the failure of anyone else may be due to his own defects - his laziness, incompetence, improvidence, or stupidity.” (104 words) (Source)

Karin McQuillan on Barack Obama

“He pretended he would set new records for bipartisanship, and he set new records for partisanship. He promised to heal race relations but intervened to inflame them.  He promised to help the economy, and he harmed it.  He promised to care about the poor, and he abandoned them.  He promised to make us safer from the jihadis than the cowboy Bush, and he has brought the entire Middle East to flames, while throwing open our border to terrorists.  He promised he would act like a pragmatic, conciliatory centrist, and he has been the opposite.” (94 words) (Source)

Elizabeth Warren on Barack Obama

“He believes in a country where everyone is held accountable. Where no one can steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street. President Obama believes in a country where we invest in education, in roads and bridges, in science, and in the future, so we can create new opportunities, so the next kid can make it big, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. That's what president Obama believes. And that's how we build the economy of the future. An economy with more jobs and less debt. We root it in fairness. We grow it with opportunity. And we build it together.” (109 words) (Source)

The Takeaway: Always strive to write concisely. One technique for writing concisely is to deliberately write an overlong first draft and then keep reducing it. For example, to write a 2000-word article, I typically write a 3000-word first draft. In successive drafts, I cut 500 words, 300 words, 150 words, and 50 words, leaving a concise, compelling, 2000-word fifth draft. This technique is quicker and easier than it sounds. Try it.

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