Wednesday, March 31, 2010

weekly writing coach: precision

I'm in London this week, a city in which doorways, bespoke shirts, architectural columns and words are precision-tailored. Trying to buy time in a shoe store when the salesman inquired what interested me, I said, "Oh, I might want one of each," thinking one pair of each would be obvious.

And so I got this rejoinder: "Well, madam, typically we sell the shoes in pairs."

A clever rejoinder and a good reminder: Are you monitoring your precision when you write? What are you assuming about your audience and its understanding? What codes--internal to your focused area--are you employing? Can they be cracked by mere mortals or is more explanation needed?

When in doubt, share your prose with someone who has some distance and can be, as my salesman was today, a clever mirror to your missing words.

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