Brevity in writing is very powerful

I love this quote from French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).

“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
(Letter 16, 1657)

Blaise Pascal

Painting of Blaise Pascal made by François II Quesnel for Gérard Edelinck in 1691 (from Wiki page)

To condense one’s writing down to, say, one third of its original volume is a very difficult task. There are parts that the author is very reluctant to omit. This is where a strong, yet understanding, editor proves to be invaluable.

The resultant passage of writing can become much more powerful than the original, creating greater impact on the reader.

That is all I have to say on the matter!

About Lance Greenfield

Blog: email: I published my debut novel in December 2014: Eleven Miles. My second novel went live in February 2016: Knitting Can Walk!
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6 Responses to Brevity in writing is very powerful

  1. Boz says:

    Just read the first three chapters of your family biog stuff and noticed no additions since 2013. Tell me, do you find it difficult writing about family issues? I ask because I have tried to write about my family life a few times and I find it almost impossible, whereas I have writer’s diahorrea about anything else & could write a three hundred thousand word book about watching paint dry (only if someone paid me, mind ).

    What, as a matter of interest did you do in the Mob ? I joined at 16 as an ordinary seaman just to get away from a tedious home life & the stepmother from hell. But managed to escape at 20 to start a career in the real world. The mob was fun, but not a career. I once described it to my father as me being mostly employed as a sort of maritime washwoman as I seemed to spend most of my time washing down bulkheads on the foretop part of ship I belonged to.

    And I can’t resist making the comment that when I did leave at age 20 years old (about 45 years ago) I steamed off straight to London on account of that’s where all the jobs are, became temporarily employed within about two days, earning enough to live on, although the jobs were really tediously boring. And so soon left (within weeks) to start a permanent job selling advertising space for the Thomson publishing empire which published numerous publications including the “Times’ newspaper.

    Agitating to have a better job I left that after just a few months to join a very small entrepreneurial publisher as a do everything sort of dogsbody, selling space and also being editor of a new magazine being launched where my inexperienced self, still not yet 21 years old, somehow persuaded various members of the great & good strata of society, (headmaster of Eton, Queen’s cousin Lord Mountbatten etc) to write articles for my new magazine. And then we bought Richard Branson’s failed effort of a magazine called ‘Student’ which we promptly made into a success with me listed as mere editorial contributor as there were only four of us and a couple of secretaries running the whole business and we all took turns to be listed as ‘staff members’ of each of the several magazines we published .

    I soon went into another huff about wanting a better job again as I really had always intended being a journalist from the age of thirteen and I had left the Navy with the express intention of commencing a career as a journalist. I soon found a post as junior reporter on a prestigious weekly trade magazine from which I migrated to a weekly newspaper within nine months and from thence to a daily provincial newspaper by the time I was twenty three.

    Now the reason I haven’t been able to resist rabbiting on about these early jobs is I currently have a sixteen year old son about to face the world of work and I have difficulty persuading him how vital ‘added value’ in the shape of as many useful ‘qualifications’ as possible are now needed to have the slightest hope of any youngster being able to get any type of job at all.

    It seems you need a university degree just to get to the interview stage for a job as a municipal public toilet cleaner or dustbin man. The media screams at us daily about the dire lack of jobs for school leavers & tells us that most of them will remain unemployed for years or can even be expected to remain unemployed for the rest of their lives, such is the appalling state of the UK economy, owing to the utter clowns who have been running it for the past few years.

    My experiences as outlined above show just how far the UK economy has fallen to become a complete and hopeless shambles and mere shadow of what it was in the late 1960’s when ANYONE could get a job instantly in almost ANY part of the UK. It really, really underlines how shoddy and horribly nasty life in the UK has come since those heady and halcyon days of the sixties when we were riding high on the crest of a wave of prosperity which we could still have if the idiots running the country since then hadn’t steadily destroyed what we once had with their venal self seeking and devious dishonesties & immoralities.

    The ‘you never had it so good generation’ were looking forward then to a new dawn of youthful vitality, prosperity and new found freedoms and huge social improvements after half a century of constant wars, Worldwide financial meltdowns and ugly, sinister, Victorian and Edwardian repressions and hypocracies.

    Our politicians wrecked all that.


  2. Silver Threading says:

    I loved your quote Lance. I like brevity and tend to come straight to the point in my writing. I do have times though when I get long winded. 🙂 Well done and welcome! Thanks for sharing. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Writer’s Quote Wednesday Weekly Wrap-Up from 3/24/15 | Silver Threading

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