“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Less Is More

I'm at the Internet Cafe today, talking about one of the Old Testament matriarchs and what we can learn from her today. Stop by and find out how important - and telling - What You Take With You can be.
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and 
whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Proverbs 17:27

I talk a lot. Probably too much (can I hear an amen, Marc?). And when I say something, I don't just say it. I give details. Lots of them. Often more than necessary.

I am, as they say, verbose. So when I'm told to condense my thoughts, I bristle. I complain. I hem and haw. But, because it's hard for me to turn down a challenge - especially related to writing - I hunker down, and usually come up with something halfway decent.

And, every time, it surprises me how powerful it is. Sometimes, less really IS more.

A few years ago, I was challenged to write complete stories in 50 words or less. I still remember how hard - and fun - and educational that was. Boiling all the action, emotions, thoughts, and everything else to the basics is a great exercise.

And over the past week or so, I've been challenged once again. The first assignment in the current ACFW loop course, "The Snowflake Method," involved paring my entire work in progress/novel down to twenty-five words or less.

Not as easy as it might sound (and yeah - I KNOW it doesn't sound easy!).

The reason for this exercise, among others, is to be able to share what your book is about quickly, and without having to memorize a long description. But doing this also had an unexpected side benefit (to me, anyway): it helped me see the core of the story. I understand better now my main character's goal, motivation, AND conflict. And any writer will tell you that's a VERY good thing.

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This fact got me thinking about how I share my testimony - and the Gospel message. Do I go on and on, blabbering about every little detail - while my audience starts tuning out? (After all, studies say our attention spans are only shrinking) Or do I share the important stuff and "make my case" succinctly?

Of course, I'm not saying you need to whittle down your testimony to 25 words or less - but condensing it, and making every word count (with the Lord's guidance, of course) can make a difference. Don't you think?

Heavenly Father, help me to share Your message of hope with people in a way they will understand, and that keeps their attention. I don't want to bog them down with extras that will only confuse or distract them. I want You to be glorified, and not my blabber. Keep my tongue from being tied, or too loose! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

How careful are you with your words? Do you tend to talk too much, losing folks' interest? How important do you think it is to be succinct in sharing important information - especially God's truth?

Comment below, and/or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength


  1. Joanne, I couldn't agree more, that less is more. I have a friend taking that course. How did I miss that? I need to read the loop more.

    I love how you related what's going on in your writing life to the gospel. So true! :)

  2. AnonymousJune 11, 2012

    Great reminder, Joanne! We as God's kingdom ambassador writers should be careful of what we write because we have a mission to get the attention of the world and bring them to the knowledge of Christ and not to bore them and push them away. God bless you for sharing this, Joanne!

  3. Jo, a clear and concise article if ever there was one. I don't always manage it, but I agree about how important it is.


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