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Strong verbs, short sentences

My favorite advice for communication and persuasion

I was listening to Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell’s great podcast, and he featured Bernadine Healy in one episode. During the episode, her great take on communication and persuasion comes up - you should use “Strong verbs, short sentences”. It’s a beautiful, recursive way to package and spread the idea: to make your ideas catch, they have to be short, simple, and firm. “Strong verbs, short sentences”

ps. Mark Twain has actually verified quotes on the subject too

  1. “I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English—it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”
  2. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”