How to write short, shortened


Thomas Heath / March 2014

Last year Roy Peter Clark gave us How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times. It’s a fantastic book … but not that short. There’s one sure way to be concise: use force. 141 characters = no Tweet. So here, forced by another constraint — haiku poetic form — is the short of it:


Find good short writing:

Quotes, tweets, curses or prayers.

Learn the tricks. Enjoy.


Ask: who is reading?

And what do they want to know?

Then answer them straight.


Start with a picture:

Words that conjure the message.

Cut what doesn’t fit.


Choose the shorter word:

Aim, go, do, make, fight, love, win.

Less is more. Is more.


Use tone to engage:

Find that shared personal space.

Now play it sweetly.


End where you began:

Replay the starting message

With extra force. Blam!