Monday, 28 October 2013

Fewer words does not mean quicker to write

An Amazon review of one of my ebooks some time ago - it was either Write a Great Synopsis or Dear Agent, I don't remember - says something along the lines of "probably written in a weekend." It goes on to praise the book and I seem to remember it had four stars. Which is good.

But that remark reveals a common misconception about the skill of writing. It does not necessarily take longer to write more words. A first draft, for example, is almost always longer than the final version because time spent chopping is almost always time spent improving.

For your interest, that's one of the things that highlights the skill of the children's writer: the ability to express a complicated concept in a few words, and often restricted ones.

Several well known writers are credited with apologising for writing such a long letter on the grounds of not having time to write a shorter one. It's an important point, whoever said it.

Anyone can write lots of words. A skilled writer says exactly what he or she wants to say in a few, because each one has been well-chosen.

As it happens, both Write a Great Synopsis and Dear Agent took months to research, write and edit. And that's why the books have clearly helped so many people

(I'm away at the moment so may not be able to reply to comments. Don't let that stop you, though!)


danholloway said...

Indeed, as any poet will tell you!

rodgriff said...

Sorry about the long letter, I don't have time to write a short one. Quotes along these lines I think originate from Pascal in about 16something, though I have heard is ascribed to Wilde, Twain, Lincoln et.
Whoever said it, you are right, short is harder than long, but it does the world a favour, saves paper and time for the reader.