"Brevity is the soul of wit."
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet
(Sorry for any typos present!)
It is super important that when you write, you use much fewer words than needed because you don’t want to lose your audience’s attention.
Concision engages your audience.
Which sentence looks better? If you chose the second, most people would agree, but how do you achieve this? If you haven’t studied concision, your sentences probably look like the first. This tutorial will show you how to construct concise sentences. Before we start, though…
Concision: Why You Should Care
Players don’t want lengthy instructions, let alone tutorials. Concision is the practice of eliminating unnecessary words.* Concise sentences read better; generally, they are direct and sound confident.
* Exceptions coming up!
Not all adverbs—modifiers of adjectives, verbs, adverbs, clauses, phrases and sentences—damage concision, but often, you will find them unnecessary. Below is a list of common culprits.
Many developers believe these words add emphasis. Instead, they should use stronger versions of their modified elements. Consider the following:
“You’re doing well,” Jessica said sarcastically while smiling.
"You’re doing well, Jessica simpered.
With one word, I struck out four. The thesaurus is your friend!
Impersonal expressions use pronouns like it and there without adding meaning; in fact, pronouns replace nouns, and when they don’t, they are meaningless. “There is” and “it is” often begin these.
It is important that developers are concise.
Developers should be concise.
Common Phrases to Replace
Below is a list of common phrases with suggestions for replacements.
- in addition to this → additionally/moreover
- most of the time → usually/typically
- a lot of the time → often
- instead of this → instead
- as a result → consequently/therefore/thus
- despite this → however
- after this → next/then/after/afterwards
- still happening → ongoing/continuing
- in a similar fashion/way → similarly/likewise
- with hesitance → hesitantly/reluctantly
- in order to/in an attempt to → to
Sometimes, developers use phrases that should be dropped.
- I think that
- I believe that
- In my opinion
- I would like to say that
- I want you to see that
- It is in my utmost humble opinion that (Yikes!)
Usually, you should avoid such phrases; like impersonal expressions, they add no meaning—you’re probably writing what you believe (unless stated otherwise).
Never say the same thing again. (That’s a rule of thumb, not a death sentence.) Meaningless repetition is just that—repetitive. (See what I did there?) Players hate it. See the below examples, and you’ll understand.
I was hungry and starving and hadn’t eaten enough.
I was starving.
It’s my own game!
It’s my game!
My personal preference for my favourite food? The fruit strawberries.
My favourite food? Strawberries.
Typically, sentences with transitive verbs look like this:
Bob ate a burger.
That’s the active voice—the doer is the subject, and the receiver is the object. Sometimes, you switch it around or eliminate the doer, such as when politicians want to distance themselves from something. Other times, however, it is wordy.
The innocents were killed by the mad murderer.
The mad murderer killed the innocents.
“But Long Sentences Are Smart!”
They can be. Not all short sentences are concise, and not all long sentences are verbose. Writers once wrote verbosely due word count–based payment.
The result of your doing work extremely badly was the boss saying mean things loudly at us.
Your substandard work caused the boss to yell at us.
Because of your substandard work, the boss yelled at us.
The last two have ten words. The first has seventeen and doesn’t sound smarter.
Art and Necessity
Phrases like “in my opinion” can be useful; without them, you may seem overly direct. Additionally, words like coordinating and subordinating conjunctions aid in your writing’s fluidity, and when you write dialogue, you won’t be as concise. In informal settings, we do use words like so and very. In the end, it’s your choice. What sounds better isn’t always the most concise.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”—Pablo Picasso
Want to Brag?
I wrote some wordy sentences on which you may practise. Reply with your answers and see who can rewrite them the most concisely!
It is totally impossible to solve all of your bad problems at once, and you should really try not to try to fix them at the same time.
Being concise is all about have as few words as absolutely possible. It is a fact that this is a really horrible example because it is just not good and hypocritically doesn’t even follow its own rules.
The evergreen tree stood tall in the white snow, with green leaves that didn’t die in the winter.
In my honest opinion, DerpyMcDerpell, a developer who develops on the DevForum, is incredibly dim and really has nothing better to do than give lessons on the DevForum that no people will really ever, like, read.
The people that played my own personal game that I made for a little bit were radically and extremely off-put by the way that the tutorial that tells you how to play went on forever and ever because of the fact that it contained a whole bunch of useless words that were totally not needed at all, and as a result, my game died and lost all of its visitors because they got really, super bored. I mean, it is my belief that my writing is actually the archetype and epitome and symbol of hope for the practice of being concise and brief and cutting off words! I’m not that badly arrogant—I just really believe in myself so much that it is a little, tiny, teensy bit self-centred and selfish and shelled.
Isn’t cutting these satisfying?
Update: My Proposed Solutions
Simultaneously solving all problems is impossible.
Concision is laconic.
The snow-blanketed evergreen tree stood tall.
DerpyMcDerpell, a DevForum member, is dim and writes useless articles.
My players left due to the “verbose” tutorial. I’m concise but not arrogant.