Saturday, September 10, 2022

Needless Words

Dear Mr. —

It comes down to the meaning of ‘needless.’ Often a word can be removed without destroying the structure of a sentence, but that does not necessarily mean that the word is needless or that the sentence has gained by its removal.

If you were to put a narrow construction on the word ‘needless,’ you would have to remove tens of thousands of words from Shakespeare, who seldom said anything in six words that could be said in twenty. Writing is not an exercise in excision, it’s a journey into sound. How about [Macbeth’s] ‘tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’? One tomorrow would suffice, but it’s the other two that have made the thing immortal.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your letter.

E. B. White.  

From The Letters of E.B. White

Reminds me of the agents who said they wouldn't read my book because it was too long.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Or the line from Amadeus: “Too many notes”