Brevity

Having started a new job as a sub-editor this week (i.e. cutting back news stories and the like) and with a much longer commute to Belfast, brevity is the name of the game for me at the minute… My time is much more limited and, particularly in terms of writing, I’ve been thinking more than ever recently about being concise in this.

(That being said, I remain a lover of long novels and indeed, the overtly descriptive – such as Virginia Woolf’s ‘To the Lighthouse’ – and I tend to write quite copiously myself…)

Harking back to last year, Damian Gorman (see earlier posts!) told us that the art of brevity creates ‘a conspiracy of intimacy‘ with the reader. There is intrigue and ‘suggestibility’. Using too many words, on the other hand, can sometimes lead to a loss of contact with readers…perhaps even more applicable given the fast-paced digital world we live in.

If we build half of the bridge, the reader will then meet us halfway.

Our homework that week, by the way, was to portray our lives in six scenes i.e. give ‘chapter headings’ to them.

I’ve recently been reading poems by Robert Frost, whose writing I enjoy and so, in the spirit of brevity, have decided to finish with one of his shortest works…

The Pasture

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan’t be gone long. – You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I shan’t be gone long. – You come too.

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