This is a topic that I’ve been thinking about for the last little while. The ability to be precise may be one of the greatest skills in any form of communication, especially writing. In any genre, I would suggest practicing this skill.
To be precise, doesn’t mean to use as little words about as possible, and it obviously isn’t about being flowery and overly descriptive. Rather, all about being exact, efficient, and to the point. This means that the words you use aren’t redundant, and each have a distinct purpose.
In the case of academic papers, the poor souls that have to read and grade all of them will gratefully appreciate the accuracy and understandability of a precise paper rather than the ones thrown together using all the vocabulary words in the study guide. I remember myself and other students thinking that the longer the paper was the better. In reality, filling a paper with fluff and redundancy doesn’t show you have a grasp on the material.
When pitching a book or screenplay, you have about two or three sentences to tell an editor, agent, or producer what the entire story is about. At first I thought that my stories were too complicated to summarize in a single paragraph. But I came to understand that the story wasn’t fully developed and I didn’t know what I was doing until I could form what’s called a logline or elevator pitch.
I’ll write about how to construct loglines and elevator pitches in another post, but for now, practice being concise. Look at a paragraph and find ways to say all the same things with less words. You’re welcome to try it out with this post, or any of my other ones. Make it a writing prompt, write the shortest story you can. Write about a character that is the king/queen of precision. Enjoy, and good luck!