White space

February 3, 2022

By Jerry Bellune

In watching a black and white movie, you want shadow and light.
In a color movie, you would want vibrant colors, not all reds or whites.
Without these, it would be an unwatchable movie.
The same is true of your own writing – and reading.
You want short Anglo-Saxon words, short sentences, short paragraphs.
This is not cancer surgery but in some ways it is.
Surgeons aim to remove diseased, not healthy, tissue.
We need to cut away the clutter and give our readers muscular prose.
That is true of advertising, letters, business proposals, even letters to Mom
Short words, sentences and paragraphs.
You would not write 50-word sentences to Mom.
Mom would have trouble reading them.
Earnest Hemingway won a bet that he couldn’t write a short story in six words.
He won by writing: Baby shoes for sale, never worn.
In this somewhat stilted example you’ll see what I mean:
Man bites dog.
Man arrested.
Dog taken to veterinarian.
You get the idea.
In a letter to Mom, you would want to embrace her, tell her what happened.
You may write to ask for money or to send her some.
You may write to tell her about her grandkids’ mischievous ways.
You may mischievously write to ask her if she’s picked up any men lately.
Your other readers want to know what’s in it for them.
Don’t make them wade through a dark forest filled with brambles.
Lead readers into a meadow smelling of clover where the sun shines.

Like what you’ve just read?
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Digital or print at: The Art of Compelling Writing: Volume 1: Bellune, Jerry: 9798538944002: Amazon.com: Books