Concision and Why Developers Need It

"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!

Adverbs

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.

List A
  • Very
  • Really
  • Super
  • Absolutely
  • Essentially
  • Particularly
  • So
  • Loudly
  • Quietly
  • Quickly

Many developers believe these words add emphasis. Instead, they should use stronger versions of their modified elements. Consider the following:

Example 1
“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

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.

Example 2
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.

List B
  • 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

To Scrap

Sometimes, developers use phrases that should be dropped.

List C
  • 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).

Redundancy

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.

Example 3
I was hungry and starving and hadn’t eaten enough.
I was starving.

Example 4
It’s my own game!
It’s my game!

Example 5
My personal preference for my favourite food? The fruit strawberries.
My favourite food? Strawberries.

Passive Voice

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.

Example 6
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.

Example 7
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

My "answers"
  1. Simultaneously solving all problems is impossible.

  2. Concision is laconic.

  3. The snow-blanketed evergreen tree stood tall.

  4. DerpyMcDerpell, a DevForum member, is dim and writes useless articles.

  5. My players left due to the “verbose” tutorial. I’m concise but not arrogant.

50 Likes

I wholeheartedly resonate with what you’ve presented here :smiley: This concept is subtle yet crucial during various facets of development. (Brevity goes along with Concision in some circumstances, as well.)

I tend to do a terrible job remaining concise, albeit I specialize in video tutorials, where improperly balancing concision with explanatory efficacy often leads to dozens of comments questioning the same thing.

Ensuring information is effectively communicated to your players will undoubtedly improve their experiences. Even individuals who are unfamiliar with development should take this on, as its applicability is near-limitless.

This thread has made me constantly edit the aforementioned sentences – I need to make this awareness much more subconscious to save some time, haha.


Here’s my responses to the Want to Brag? section (technically some of them aren’t sentences, but that wasn’t specified hahaha):

  1. Solve each problem one at a time.

  2. Concision --> Effective Cohesion.

  3. The luscious leaves were the only survivors of the snow-draped tree. (I got stumped on this one, pun not intended)

  4. DepyMcDerpell created a fantastic tutorial – here it is :wink:

  5. Drawn-out tutorial --> Bored players --> Dead game (sometimes) Tee hee

2 Likes

This tutorial teaches developers concision, which aids in UX.

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OHHH thank you. That makes sense im gonna save this when i make my UX.

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This’ll help you make sure players don’t get bored by dialogue, instructions, et cetera.

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Great tutorial! This can be applied to all sorts of development processes: story design, dialog, quests, documentation, release notes, announcements, etc!

Even for casual writing or speaking, keeping concise helps your audience remain engaged, plus shortens the work you have to do.

Wholeheartedly recommend others learning!

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I do believe and declare that this is a very informative article, thank you.

In all seriousness: great post. User experience is typically overlooked and it’s fascinating to see how people will learn from this information.

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Oh heck no… Oh hell no.
Nevertheless, I tried :grimacing:

It’s impossible to solve all of your bad problems at once, so I encourage you to not.

Being concise is all about having as few words as possible.

The evergreen tree stood tall in the white snow, with green leaves that didn’t die in the winter.

DerpyMcDerpell, a developer on the DevForum, is incredibly dim and has nothing better to do than provide lessons that no users will ever likely read.

The tutorials in my game were too lengthy. Players provided feedback over the redundant words used. The user experience is terrible, but I consider great confidence in my writing skills.

I blame writing essays and intense narratives for this habit. Great tutorial!

2 Likes

Disagree with this section. Passive voice is an extremely necessary component when language is written and spoken. It is used in Japanese and English extensively. If your example is taken:

I counted 46 characters for the top part.
I counted 40 characters for the bottom part.

It’s just not worth it to me to not write things passively to save 6 characters.

Otherwise I pretty much agree, with these short exceptions:

What kid in the world (including me) knows what “simpered” means? You even acknowledged this:

Yeah, no kid is going to want to read a thesaurus while playing “MEGA BOT BATTLE - STORY”

In this case own is not redundant but rather emphatic, so I don’t think this should count either.

Practice Time

2 Likes

Passive voice is useful, but generally, you should avoid it. Knowing when to use it—as you would any tool—is crucial. Simply stating that it is “an extremely necessary component” demonstrates that you have not yet mastered its applications. No reason exists for you to write the first sentence instead of the second.

Some situations in which you may employ passive voice
  • You don’t know who the doer is
  • The doer is less important than the receiver
  • You want to be indirect
  • You want to be wordy for artistic effect

You could get ninety-nine percent on a test or one hundred. Which would you choose?

You can cater to your audience (because not all developers are writing for children). Additionally, the thesaurus is your friend in that you may use it; I did not say that it’s your audience’s friend.

As stated, you may choose to keep such words for tone and whatnot, but they are generally redundant because they add no meaning. A (modern) skillful writer would not employ it without reason. Ask yourself if the word own is getting the point across more.

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For further reading, please see this article on passive voice: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/passive-voice/

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I’d rather read something that has a few extra words rather than some big boy grammar.

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Interesting take on the topic. Why?

“In my humble opinion this topic is really and extremely helpful for all begginers that are starting in this development world” -David

Seriosuly, great topic. Helpful. But kids probably won’t understand some weird words, so I would say that being clear is another good advice

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Concision, when done right, often aids in clarity, but you’re right—sometimes, the best word you can think of won’t work with you’re audience, and that’s fine!

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but then you go on to say

So is it useful, or is it not?

Not sure what the idiom means here…

If I need to use a thesaurus to find a complex word, chances are lots of people don’t generally know its meaning and also need the thesaurus.

You know I do understand when to use passive voice, or I wouldn’t have complained about it, right?

Passive Voice Examples + Situation:

“This great city was founded by my grandfather.” Public speaker, formal. Alternative to: “My grandfather founded this great city.” Why to choose passive: Formally reflecting on the past.

“A terrible crime was committed by my brother.” Friend, informal. Alternative to: “My brother committed a terrible crime.” Why to choose passive: Distancing from the situation.

The fact that it is useful doesn’t means that it should be used, even if it sound contradictory

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Knives are useful for cutting food, but I don’t bring them to English class. Note the generally.

You can be average or better. It is the choice of the writer.

Not all strong words are complex. For example, shout instead of say loudly.

Why, then, do you seem to be taking an argumentative stance when I state in the post that the passive voice can be used in certain circumstances? You are repeating me.

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Where’s the mistake in these points?

[quote=“DerpyMcDerpell, post:19, topic:875035”]

Off-topic a bit, my point was the use of simpered was basically an excuse to use

The mistake is using a colon after a preposition.

I used simpered because it holds lots of information in one word. I’m sorry if you didn’t, but I expected most people to know the definition, and I do not understand why you are attacking me for it.

2 Likes