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The Art of Succinct Writing

Jan 23rd 2015 at 8:12 PM

Writing is a complex mental process and is perfected in several stages. First of all it is important to put down the ideas and findings in a coherent form, this initial write-up can be called draft, but in order to be publishable it has to undergo a process which makes it perfect with respect to particular standards. Succinct writing is highly preferred by the research fraternity. Succinctness is a quality which makes the written content hard to dispense with that is each word used in the write-up has its significance and does not seem useless to the reader but conveys some meaning. In research writing succinctness does not mean non-repetition, if terms and sentences are repeated in a research article the reiterations should seem purposeful to the reader in the context and not just page fillers.  While reading a succinctly written article the readers mind flows in a direction, with the progression in the reading the reader wants to read more for more meaning and that is what the reader is able to find, so there is no disappointment. On the contrary poorly written articles disappoint the reader as he/she is not able to locate the meanings or do not find the meanings significant enough.

While reviewing a research write-up first of all it is important to assess the statement of the objective, if the objective has been well defined the entire write-up will be directed by the objective and will be coherent. Researchers who read well write well, reading related literatures on the topic helps the researcher to work on ideas that will be considered an effort justified as per the level of the researcher. The objective should not seem below par and should not be vague but should have well defined scope and concreteness. Sometimes writers may not be able to put their thoughts coherently which may be due to language problems; it takes a skillful editor with proficiency both in the subject matter as well as the language to grasp what the writer actually wants to convey and suggest changes accordingly.

Proper categorization and sequencing of written matter is also important for writing succinctly. Improper categorization can lead to unnecessary repetition and loosely written matter. In research, especially qualitative research, where the structure of data gathering is deliberately made semi structured, a whole lot of data can come in from samples and respondents. If each data set is written out separately it will fill pages and fail to convey any meaning. Prior to formally writing out the findings, researcher needs to read very carefully through all the responses and establish patterns and groups; by refining the categorization process the quality of the write-up can be significantly improved, refining categorization includes defining the patterns or groups in a better way, combining very short categories under single code or title and eliminating unnecessary categories. Use of charts and tables should be made for summarizing important data, wherever required. The write-up should be also checked for sequence as improper sequencing often leads to non-conciseness.

Language the medium of expression is a major determinant of succinct writing. Very often writers use many words instead of one single word or term, the ability to use few words instead of many words to convey the same meaning is called vocabulary power, for e.g. instead of writing –‘this will helpful in teaching learning process’, we can say-‘this will be helpful in pedagogy’. While choosing words the parlance of the domain should be considered, all fields have their own particular way of defining or expression and expressing in the same parlance establishes a better communication with the fraternity of the domain as such words and terms convey the meaning in its complete scope and dimension.

While language editing the entire manuscript has to be read thoroughly and all unnecessary and redundant words need to be eliminated, sometimes the sentence needs to be reconstructed. Many a time’s writers may use superfluous words like ‘During the course of sampling’, instead of this we should say, ‘During sampling’, or it would be wrong to say ‘this is a rough estimate of the jobs created’ instead we should say ‘this is an estimate of jobs created’, as the word estimate itself implies a roundabout and not the exact number and the word ‘rough’ in this case is redundant.

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