“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.” Emily Dickinson
I love quotes. They are like little golden nuggets of great writing. They catch something tight inside you and they make it shimmer. Maybe the secret of great writing is to make sure every sentence is worthy of being quoted. When you write tight, every word counts. When you write loose, you assume your readers will stick with you, that they are totally invested in what you are saying. Tight writing is all in the edit, and editing is a writer’s job. Yes, writing is a form of free expression, but your readers have the choice of when to stop. On that note, I’ll shut up and give you my top tight writing tips.
* mistake the first draft for the finished product
* mistake long words for clever thinking
* be self-indulgent.
* risk a change of form to keep things tight – turn an essay into a play
* let your ideas come first, then sculpt them into shape
* turn the passive into the active, the general into the personal
* find your voice.
As a reader, I will stick with a piece of writing if it resonates with me, and I will stop reading if it doesn’t. As the writer, you get to do the editing. And that means a focus on form, title, structure, ideas, paragraphs, sentences, words. This is not a problem, however, because (a) it’s fun and (b) editing is the way you scrub the dirt off your thinking, and make it shine.
(And you are welcome to quote me on that.)