Zerillian Engineering

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Excess Verbosity

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I have a tendency toward verbosity. I’m a really wordy person. TOO WORDY, IN FACT.

I think the reason I do it stems from a fear that my ideas won’t get through to people. I used to have to explain things to non-technical people, and sometimes that made my brain go around in circles attempting to come up with the right words. I got rather accustomed to stringing words together that had to adjust previous words with more detail, supposedly assuring that I wasn’t misunderstood. By the way, there’s one word for that paragraph: Pleonasm.

Mostly it just confused people, so something had to give.

I wrote some emails recently, and boy were they motormouthed, perhaps incongruously so. I mean, I’ve got a little OS X launcher utility that can do thesaurus lookups. It’s been getting more use lately.

I also have friends that like to edit their writing only as they write it. Those works tend to be quite tautological. The fault is a lack of a unifying cynosure. My emails tend to be like that, unfortunately. Conversational tones give a congenial feel to these communications, but I think I’ve overdone it.

See? A little refined vocabulary cuts away superfluity. I’ve learned to work that thesaurus and boil down sentences to core meaning, finding out if I’ve repeated things too often. It’s a rule now.

For others with circuitous writing issues, it’s a good idea to keep a dictionary app open all the time. Or, if you’re the type that’s very grounded in the tangible world, a pocket thesaurus. If you’re a Mac user, you’ve already got Dictionary.app and built-in word lookups basically everywhere.

This whole less is more thing works in surprising places. And remember that people love to work with strong writers. Make the most of your paragraphs.

That, and when you use sophisticated vocabulary, you’re giving the reader an opportunity for a nice little educational experience. Who doesn’t like learning new words?

Everybody wins.