Another writer who does a lot with 100 words is the former technology columnist and police reporter Fred Reed (pictured). In an article about why so many US citizens (plus legal and illegal immigrants living in the US) are thinking about secession, he begins with a remarkably concise statement of his diagnosis:
“The country is not a happy place. Today it is more consciously and resentfully divided, politically, regionally, racially and by sex and class than perhaps ever before. The rich prosper and the middle class sink. Three major racial blocs eye each other with fear and hostility. The hard left controls the media and government against the desires of much of the country, enforcing social engineering that is deeply disliked. Feminists make war on men, and destroy the schools and universities. Washington is widely loathed. Rules, laws, and regulations never voted on grow ever more burdensome and intrusive. Many quietly want out. The question is how to get there.” (108 words)
Mr. Reed’s grammar here is a little off kilter, but his meaning is clear, hard-hitting and unapologetic. This is the kind of writing that’s so clear and concise that it fools many beginners into thinking it’s easy. It isn’t; I know professors, business consultants and business executives who say less with 500 words, even 1,000.
The Takeaway: If you want to make your writing more concise, keep reading writers who are good at writing concisely. To see the earlier pieces in this series, search on “Mr. Clarity” and “You can say a lot in only 100 words.” For even more examples of good concision, search on “Mr. Clarity” and “Concise writing is usually clear writing.”