Trusting Brevity

I trust brevity because it’s evident.

What you see is what you get.

Clarity and decisiveness inspire confidence.

Brevity doesn’t waste my time or make me work for something that may be nothing.

I trust brevity because it gives greater meaning and more time to ponder.

Less is more because I can take it or leave it.

What do you think?


  1. “brevity is the soul of wit”…..and definitely something i could stand to work on myself.

    i love all the posts out there by writers that remind me to edit, which i rarely do while blogging. only use the words necessary. yep.

    all the best!

    debs last blog post..what makes a good president?

  2. Tom,
    I distrust brevity. It lacks subtlety, and frequently lacks depth. In a discussion, it often dismisses with “of course we agree on what things mean…” or dominates with “that’s so obvious, that if you don’t agree, you’re…”.
    For those (including me) who think things to death and argue constantly with our subselves, brevity is sometimes the most important thing – helping us reach what we (non-verbally?) “really mean” – but outside ourselves…

    An example: a few years ago, after several contentious phone calls with a long-distance-relationship girlfriend, she sent me an email whose entire text was “I just don’t see how we can be a romantic couple anymore. Bet you’re wondering how this will change my visit next week?” My entire reply was “No, I’m wondering why you’re planning to visit at all.” [Disclaimer: neither are exact quotations. The number of sentences is correct, though.]
    And we didn’t speak-to/email each other for many months, and still haven’t had the courage [or inclination?] to discuss what we meant then. It’s still not clear to me that either of us meant to break up then, even though we must have both been hurt by the phone calls. But she’s happy, and I’m probably happy (except that my car died two weeks ago), so…

    No – brevity still sometimes sucks.

    p.s. was “sent” here by years ago, and have been lurking since – thank you for giving me more things to consider about “me and my job”.

  3. Brevity is the way to go; I agree.

    There is a time and place for everything, true.

    But whatever you do, always be concise.

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..7 Places You Should Never Stick Your Finger

  4. Hi Deb yep using only the words that are necessary takes some practice but is well worth the effort.

    Alex welcome, I’m pleased to see that we both read Egbert Sukop.
    I’ll agree that in cases of dialogue brevity can suck especially when it leads to a lack of understanding. Yet extra words in writing are often a waste of time.

    Bamboo Forest Enough said.

  5. Hmmm, I have to say I much admire that you’re “Brevity Guy.” I agree that brevity is beautiful in the written word, and I tend to edit my own writing heavily.

    Conversations are another matter entirely …


    Andrea Hess|Intuition In Businesss last blog post..Who Are You Really Hiring?

  6. Monika Mundell says:

    I can actually relate to both you and Alex. I consider brevity in the written word an art which I keep trying to perfect when I write, (although I don’t always succeed) – I called it trim the fat before. πŸ™‚

    In conversations I believe we need to be articulate enough to acknowledge the other person and convey the message accordingly. I see where Alex is coming from with this and have to agree with what he said.

    Thank you for the thoughtful post though, certainly food for the mind.

    Monika Mundells last blog post..Emotional Connections To Beat Creative Blocks

  7. Yes! Brevity is an elegant solution.

    There is power in few words well chosen.

    The net exists to catch a fish, and when the fish are caught, the net is forgotten.
    The rabbit snare exists to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten.
    Words exist is to convey thoughts. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
    Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so that I may ‘speak’ to him? -Chuang Tzu

    Love you all!


  8. Clem Gigliotti Jr. says:

    I agree. Less is more.

  9. Hi Monika you are pretty darn good at trimming that fat. I’ve read your stuff. Bravo!

    Fawn brevity leads to clarity. Sorry I must be dense today. I’m sure Mr. Tzu is a profound philosopher but I’m not getting it and I read it five times. Perhaps he needed another line to communicate?

    Clem a reply is unnecessary except to say thanks for commenting.

  10. β€œI didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
    – Mark Twain

    Brevity is an art and few of us take the time to perfect it.

    We tend to value books by their length rather than their impact. So much of what’s communitated is more time-consuming than valuable.

    I am currently writing two books and I feel the pressure to lengthen them. After consideing your article I will focus on shortening them. One is only 16 pages and perhaps long enough. I think I’ll charge extra for the all the time that brevity will save the reader!



  11. Yes

    Robins last blog post..This Blogging Life!

  12. I never understood why teachers require a certain number of pages for a paper. If the depth of understanding can be conveyed with fewer words, why not accept a paper less then 8 pages. What happens is students fatten up their papers to stretch it out without adding any quality.

    @ Robin- very nice. :O)

  13. Hi Tom,

    Yes, less is more.

    Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Interview With Lorelle VanFossen – Part 8 – The Future of Blogging

  14. Andrea now you know why I’m the brevity guy. πŸ™‚

    Peter I agree with your assessment on the value of your books. If the writing is concise and I trust the content I appreciate
    brevity because it gets to the point quickly.

    Robin cute. πŸ™‚

    Laurie don’t get me started on common sense and traditional education. Understanding where these practices originate is a challenge.

    Barbara here here!

  15. All – thank you for giving me many things to consider.

    For those of you who haven’t already seen Six Word Memoirs, you’ll enjoy:

    I find the Hemingway story on that page fascinating because of its impact. At the same time I wonder: how many people died? Nobody? The baby? The mother giving birth? The expecting parents? I apologize for being morbid, but it seems like that six-word story could be the beginning of so many different Lifetime Channel movies.

    Seems to me that brevity only leads to clarity with sufficient shared context. I didn’t understand that Tom was referring to writing instead of conversation, so I replied here. My ex and I didn’t understand where each other’s emails were coming from (e.g., how much disgust versus how much love were in them) so we’re exes. And if I may presume: Tom wasn’t familiar with the context of Chuang Tzu/Zhuangzi’s work, so Fawn’s quotation appeared unclear.

    (Amazing how dead guys from China can change their name πŸ˜‰

    Peter – for many years, my mother nagged me that the authors of “DOS for Dummies” and “PCs for Dummies” made millions in royalties in spite of the manuals that came with the computer for free. People – including my parents – didn’t buy the books because they were wordy; they bought them because they felt understood by the authors, and learned more that way. Please consider that understanding your audience (“shared context”) and writing for them may be more important than length.

    Oh yeah – Mom stopped nagging me when she figured out that I was one of those geeks who preferred manuals to “Dummies” computer books. De gustibus non est disputandum? Guess I prefer brevity for some things…

  16. Tom,

    If I had to pick one writing goal that I continually aspire toward it’s being more “succinct.” I especially appreciate brevity in the online environment.

    I must admit that I still have a long way to go to get to Brevity.


  17. Suzanne Bird-Harris | Learning Curve Coaching says:

    Brevity for the sake of brevity? Nope. No can do.

    Brevity as a result of using the exact word to convey the exact thought or message? A goal I continually aspire to.


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