Fewer Words, More Meaning

[UWC] Stewart Matzek_Nominalizations_ILLUSTRATION 1

By Joey Aisa

There is a misconception regarding the concept of concision, as if stringing more words will create more meaning and clearer vision. The sentence is filled with empty words to the brim. Significance without concision is nothing but grim. There are not many students who use this writing tool. Those who avoid the skill of concision are bound to be fools.

Dear reader, the strange paragraph above is an example of poor concision. Let’s take a moment to dissect it to understand why concision is crucial.

  1. Avoid redundancy traps.

“There is a misconception regarding the concept of concision”

“The sentence is filled with empty words to the brim

Saying the same thing twice does not add more meaning to the sentence.

  1. A sentence without “fluff” words can carry more meaning and clarity.

The first sentence is a “fluffed” version of the blog title.

  1. Try to change negatives to affirmatives.

“There are not many students who used this tool.” Not many could be replaced with few.

I would like to show how concision is a crucial skill in writing personal statements, argumentative essays, and creative writing.

Personal Statements

Whether you are submitting a personal statement for a job, internship, graduate/professional school, etc., admissions committees do not have time for convoluted writing. Through concision, the reader can see what you are trying to convey in your statement—fluff words would only be a distraction. Furthermore, personal statements often have word limits, so concision can help you use that limit to your advantage.

Wordy example: During my undergraduate years at the University of Nevada, Reno I was the president of the Red Cross, ASUN, economics club, theatre club, and sociology club.

A personal statement is not an essay version of one’s resume. By listing titles without expressing how/why it is important (describing an experience) this sentence becomes a “fluffed” version of a resume and/or CV instead of a document about your uniqueness.

Concise example: As president of the sociology club, I was able to raise funds for the development of a school in Uganda geared towards educating the locals about law, medicine, and different languages.

This sentence utilizes a leadership role along with describing what made that experience impactful. We did not “fluff” with endless lists.

Argumentative Essays

Concision can also help in strengthening the tone of an argumentative essay. Words such as seemingly, actually, really, very, basically, kind of, etc., don’t add more meaning to one’s argument. Argumentative essays require concise, persuading prose.

Example: Dr. Smith’s argument seemed to be centered upon the use of GMOs. He really emphasized the benefits and advantages of them.

This sentence does not set a strong tone for an argument essay. The use of, “seemed to be” and “really” did not help the context. Also, there was a redundancy trap by using “benefits and advantages.”

Example: Dr. Smith argued the long term positive benefits of GMOs by conducting research on the intersection of environment, health, and consumerism which showed an increase in well-being within the environment and population.

This sentence used concision by being specific with Dr. Smith’s argument. We did not say he “seemed” to have a certain perspective or his tendency to “really” emphasize the benefits. We articulated his argument with precision.

Creative Writing

A common assumption is that concision is the arch enemy of creativity. Many students claim that concision dulls writing by getting rid of adjectives or eccentric phrases. However, the purpose of concision is not to get rid of fun words, rather, to add meaning by being selective with what words you do use. Think about it, reader.

If I were to tell you, “It was a very beautiful, sunny day”. The words very-beautiful-sunny create a murk of adjectives that lose their meaning in each other.

If I told you, “The sun painted the sky in hues of crimson”, though we used fewer adjectives, the sentence has more meaning because we chose a specific description rather than an endless list of adjectives. Concision creates selectivity in writing so that we do not utilize empty words.

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