Books about writing often warn you about unnecessary and repetitious words (whispered softly, ran quickly, a smile on his face). You don’t want empty spaces in your writing. Stimulate your readers and hold their interest by making every word count.
But sometimes longer is better. Wordiness can be an effective choice. Good writers know that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all rule for every writing situation.
More-is-better is a useful principle when:
- You’re trying to create a mood or an atmosphere
- You’re giving unwelcome news (for example, saying “no” to a customer
- You’re explaining something complex
- You’re emphasizing a point that readers might miss
Here’s one example of useful redundancy: The close of a paragraph. Let’s say you’ve just described the warmth and love you experienced in your grandmother’s kitchen as a child.
You’ve said it all: The cinnamon in the air, the purring of her cat, the teakettle whistling on her stove, the songs she used to hum when she was making her famous chicken and dumplings.
What’s left to say? Nothing – but if you’re an exceptional writer, you’ll wrap up the paragraph with one more closure sentence. Here are three possibilities:
- I was happy there.
- I wish I could go back.
- I have wonderful memories of her.
There’s a grace and ease about a few extra words in just the right place. Don’t be afraid to take a little longer to say exactly what you want your readers to know. The results will be worth the effort.
(Did you notice that last sentence? It’s not really necessary, but it added a little finesse to what I’d written. At least I hope it did.)