Want to be a better writer? Learn to “write small.”

Great writers know how to pack loads of meaning and emotion into the fewest possible words. Ernest Hemingway’s works contain powerful examples of small writing. He was once challenged to tell an entire story in only six words. Here’s how he did it:

“For sale: baby shoes, never used.”

In six words, he told a complete story in our minds—a story of a child lost. Did the child die? If so, how? Grief. Sadness. A mother’s desire to move on with her life. Were there money problems?

That which was not said makes that which was said all the more significant. This is the power of small writing.

A key component of writing small is to edit long phrases into shorter ones. Here are some examples that you can use right away to help put small writing principles into action on your next writing project!

Before After
a majority of most
a number of some, many
at an early date soon
at the conclusion of after, following
at the present time now
based on the fact that because
check out check
despite the fact that although
due to the fact that because
during the course of during
during the time that during, while
have the capability to can
in connection with about
in order to to
in regard to regarding, about
in the event of if
in view of the fact that because
it is often the case that often
it is our opinion that we think that
it is our recommendation that we recommend that
it is our understanding that we understand that
make reference to refer to
of the opinion that think that
on a daily basis daily
on the grounds that because
prior to before
relative to regarding, about
so as to to
subsequent to after
take into consideration consider
until such time as until

Leave a Reply