You don’t have to say much to say a lot.

When we wordy types talk about the beauty and power in the economy of words, one example we like to use is Hemingway’s six-word short story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Apparently there’s controversy around the attribution to Hemingway, but let’s ignore that for now and shift our focus from the famous who to the what. The writer here in six simple words has presented readers with an entire world of emotions and meaning, without long descriptive text. The lesson here is that you don’t have to say much to say a lot.

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Image Courtesy of / audfriday13

I was reading the fiction issue from the Chicago Reader and came across these lines by Billy Lombardo in the story “Shake Hands Like a Man”:

My father was gone by then, and my mother was still in her 30s. She was still pretty too. And she was alive. She’s alive now, but not like then.

When I read writers like Lombardo who can weave depth and complication into such simplicity, I am proud to call myself a writer and an editor, to live in the company of people who work with words and can describe in four short sentences the feelings that could fill an entire novel.

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2 Responses to “You don’t have to say much to say a lot.”

  1. […] but, but. Garbage excuses. Andrew said posting just a paragraph or two is fine. I know this. I’ve done it. It feels […]

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