Short is good

I watched TheOdd1sOut's How to Find Inspiration1 and remembered the most important lesson I learned from my high school English teacher:

Short is good. Short is hard.

The teacher2 didn't exactly put it like that. But he harped on something nobody else did: writing concisely.

Every week we would read a work of American literature. And every Friday we'd turn in a one-pager encapsulating our knowledge of the book. I was an odd duck for how much I enjoyed the game: no playing with margins or font sizes. I had to cram an entire book into one page, double-spaced, with 1" margins, a title line, and a byline.

I remember spending Thursday nights honing my text, usually down to around 500 words. We would get a slight bonus for conveying more with fewer words.

That's surprisingly difficult for teenagers conditioned to churn out a specific word count. TheOdd1sOut commiserates:

I feel like the American school system has brainwashed kids into thinking that the best way to express ideas is through the form of a five paragraph essay.

And most schools require essays to have a minimum word count! So we are now training the next generation into purposely writing long-winded and wordy thoughts that could've been shortened down a sentence!

I've found success on YouTube through my writing style. Like the LockPickingLawyer, I value my audience's time.

I spend more time editing my scripts than writing them. Whittling at extraneous drivel so the video contains maximum relevance and minimal filler3.

From TheOdd1sOut:

The first piece of advice that I can give that will immediately improve your scripts is:

Getting to the point.


  1. How to Find Inspiration ↩︎

  2. Hello, Dr. Chura! ↩︎

  3. Sometimes I run out of time in script editing, but I always regret it. Every sentence I write carries a cost through recording, editing, and the dreaded YouTube 'audience retention' metric. If you can cut dead weight early in the process, the benefit is exponential. ↩︎


I have fond memories of writing space-constrained reviews for DVD and game magazines. Squeezing everything into a sentence or two (and ekeing out a few more puns or alliterations) was usually more fun than longer feature articles.

Omit needless words. - The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.

Writing with a fountain pen has reinvigorated this style for me. I write quickly while mentally editing between the thought entering my brain and landing on the paper. The result is quite an exercise in minimalism.

Fountain pens truly connect you more deeply with your thoughts and your writing. If you haven't tried one, you should!