When it comes to writing, there is a misconception amongst many people that more is always better. It is not. If something can be said in 500 words, it should be said in 500 words and not 2,000 words. There is no inherent need to waffle on and expand a piece for the sake of it. I would argue that the opposite is true as a customer will get the information they need if you write in a concise and precise manner.
I was thinking about this last night after I watched the final episodes of Breaking Bad: A show that is more addictive than the drug the story focuses on.
Later on I watched an interview with the main star Bryan Cranston. He is an intelligent and articulate man who likes to have a laugh. In the interview he spoke about the fact that Breaking Bad only went for five seasons when most other successful TV shows are stretching to six, seven, eight or even nine seasons (or as we say in the UK: series). It starts from around the 22 minute mark.
For those who cannot view YouTube just now, here is a transcript of the part I am talking about.
“Personally, I felt that Breaking Bad could probably go another season of thirteen episodes and see where it takes Walt, but Vince Gilligan [Breaking Bad creator] didn't think so, and that's far more important than my opinion on it. I didn't want, and I am glad Vince is ending it where he wants to end it, because now I don't feel that it's been watered down. It hasn't been diluted. We haven;t been redundant in the stories, and we're ending it at the right time, and I think that's a good thing.
And the great thing about a film is it should be as long as it needs to be to tell that story thoroughly, and so, too, is a television series, or a play, or a book. That's the writers constant worry, and we agonise – and I'm a writer as well – is how much is too much and how much is not enough. We agonise not only over the whole telling of the story, but also each individual paragraph or moment. How much description? Because you don't want to bore the reader and go, I got it, I got it, move on. And you don't want to confuse them, either. Like, wait a minute, what? I don't – I have to go back, I didn't catch something.
It's a balance. It's always walking that edge, which is the challenge.” – Bryan Cranston
Do Not Dilute Your Writing
I have been guilty of writing more than I needed to in many of my posts on this blog; perhaps due to the relaxed conversational tone that I use. Most of the articles I write for clients are guides so there is never a risk of that happening. I write what needs to be written and no more.
Whenever you are writing content, whether it be on your blog or in a book, remember the benefits of getting straight to the point. More is not always better.
If you want an example of short articles that get straight to the point, check out the blog of author Seth Godin. He conveys his though in fifty words when others struggle to do the same using thousands. Every sentence he uses has power and meaning.