Thursday, June 07, 2007

Why making it longer is always a bad idea

In my book, I have a bit of a rant - well, more of a whinge, really - about the way that designers are always asking me to cut what I've written. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but because they don't want too many nasty squiggly little words cluttering up their nice clean layouts.

But the other day, I received a much rarer request from a designer: for typographical reasons, she wanted me to increase the length of what I'd written by about 20%. For once, I dug in my heels and refused (I'm renowned for being amenable to the point of spinelessness).

Cutting a piece of persuasive writing will nearly always have some beneficial results. True, you may lose something, in terms of tone or content, if you cut too much; but the loss will probably be at least partly off-set by greater economy of expression. But increasing the length of a piece of writing - for any reason other than to add something of value to the reader - will always make it worse.

As I might be tempted to demonstrate, by writing another paragraph here, when I have nothing else to say, just in order to make this post look a bit more substantial than it really is. But I won't, because I'd be wasting your time. And mine. Sorry. I'll stop now.

Or maybe now, actually, because I always think a short para looks better to end on.


At 12:41 pm, Blogger Richard Owsley said...

OK Lindsay, like the length. Can you make sure it looks good in red?

Hi there, yes it's not just Caroline, you do have other readers. Friday lunchtime. We're coming to the end of a long, hard week in Writersville, and your blog makes an entertaining break from supply chain initiatives and HR tool-kits.

Sorry, that's a bit of a back-handed compliment, isn't it?


At 4:21 pm, Blogger Lindsay said...

Thanks very much for this, Richard. Actually, I now have evidence of at least five readers - double figures, here I come.

As for the back-handed compliment, I'll take any kind I can get.

Hope all is well with you.


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