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An Open Letter To All Verbose Writers

An Open Letter To All Verbose Writers

Dear loquacious writer, I have the painful duty to reach out to you today, and sincerely warn you, lest you screw our beloved art – writing.

Imagine for a minute that a car model has just been manufactured, and you’re given the privilege to be the first buyer.

The car has a giant rotor on it like a helicopter. You’re excited to buy the never-before-seen car for $2 million, and you ask the manufacturer what purpose the rotor serves.

“Nothing really. I just added the blade for fun. Or maybe to make the car look bigger.”

“Uh!” You’re puzzled. “Well, you’re an expert. I’m sure the rotor would not impair the normal functioning of the car,” you shrug.

“Sadly, it will,” the manufacturer interjects. “The rotor adds enormous weight to the car’s, and that means you can’t speed above 40km/h.”

“40km/h?! But that’s an automobile snail!”

You stare at each other in silence for few seconds.

“I’m j…, I’m just con…” you hesitate. “Did you add that rotor to the car to save cost or…?”

“Quite the contrary. That rotor alone accounts for half of the manufacturing cost.” He pauses. “Otherwise, I would be willing to sell the car for $1 million.”

You’re angry.

You look at the $2 million check you had signed and the manufacturer outstretches his hand to receive it from you. You tear the white paper into shreds and leave the manufacturer looking blank.

You’re a manufacturer of written works

Yes, that’s what you are, as a writer.

And you’ll be causing a whole lot of havoc for yourself, your readers and our beautiful craft when you invent unnecessary – even burdensome – components into your writings.

Verbose Writers

The car manufacturer wasted valuable time and resources to build a rotor into the car. The rotor has no usefulness. Not only that, it takes up extra space and slows down the car.

That’s clearly an unnecessary evil. One that detracts from the quality of his car, annoys his customers and waste precious resources.

But why did he do it?

Because he thought it was fun. And perhaps to make the car bigger.

Alas! I see many writers today waste time, ink and energy producing extra words and sentences than necessary in their works… just for fun, and to have longer pieces.

My dear loquacious writer, that’s unacceptable.

Here’s why…

1. Unnecessary elements ruin the crucial elements in your writings. William Strunk said it well:

A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

2. Verbosity shows disrespect for the time and attention of your readers. And Dr. Seuss was right:

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.

3. Verbosity makes the craft of writing uninteresting. People who don’t write other than in examination halls may be indifferent when you show contempt for this craft.

We cannot. Because this is our heritage. Readers judge us all by what each of us writes. So I ask you to heed William Zinsser’s counsel:

Writing improves in direct ratio to the things we can keep out of it that shouldn’t be there.

Here’s your clarion call

If you get this letter, please act on it. Embrace brevity because…

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact. — George Eliot

Verbosity is evil.

It’s not good for you. It’s not good for your readers. And it’s certainly not good for our dear craft.

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About Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

Writer. Difference Maker. Entrepreneur. Author, Your Right To Write & Vertical Writing. Winner, 11 Writing Prizes.

Comments

  1. Thanks, coach.

  2. Lol. Can’t stop laughing at the last statement. I started my writing career with, sadly, verbosity. But I’m becoming better now. Over time I’ve learnt to sift sense from mere letters when drafting so that unnecessary words don’t creep in. It’s not been easy but we (writers) have to avoid it by all means.
    Thanks for this beautiful piece coach!

  3. Hey Coach, You caught me today! Though you just caught a running rabbit. Though I am guilty of verbosity especially with my short stories, I am fighting it daily hoping to defeat it. Then here you come to my rescue as usual not just stating that it is evil but giving a way out. Thanks for being there!

  4. I’ve never skipped or ignored any of your emails but I almost made an exception with this one (and am glad I didn’t ).
    On seeing the topic, i almost skipped because I thought I don’t belong in that category. “Abdullahi can’t write a can of worms” I thought.

    After reading the first two paragraphs, I got enticed.
    Read word by word till the end and almost gave myself a slap for almost ignoring this timely masterpiece.

    Thanks for being awesome. #rushing_to_my_draft_folder. I refuse to repeat a mistake.

  5. .. You look at the $2 million check [why not cheque?] you had…

    Take note pls. I want to believe its a typo…

  6. Well, I just checked the dictionary now…I think check is American version of Cheque…
    let’s hear from you coacheee

  7. Thank you for this advise. Often time, the pressure to have lengthy essays drags people into this. However, the length is not as important as the message.

  8. awugo julius says:

    great work you are doing over there, i must say. Complements of the season to you and your family. My name is Awugo Julius of aure magazine. We are looking for someone to be updating our website, we will very much appreciate if you do us the honours. Leave me an email at: talk2sirjulius@gmail.com if you are up.

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