Long ago, I had a writing teacher somewhere emphasize what I’ve put in the title of this little article. He said I should always be very direct in my writing and strive for economy of language.
It has taken me decades to appreciate what he said, to really begin understanding what he said. I’m still not sure I’m there, but I think I do better than I did then. Whether you’re writing historical novels, mystery or suspense novels, technical manuals, or prenatal vitamins reviews for website copy, that’s pretty good advice.
Direct Writing: Strive to be active and not passive in your writing. Don’t write “The ball was thrown by John,” instead of “John threw the ball.” There certainly are occasions when passive writing is necessary, but generally direct, active writing moves the reader along and works for the pace of your writing better than passive.
Economy of Language: Try to write with short, concise words and phrases. That doesn’t mean you need to make all your sentences three or four words, or your paragraphs two or three sentences. Don’t overdo this and create choppy, awkward narrative. A useful exercise is to write something fairly long (500-1,00 words) and then let it “season” a couple of days. Now go back and rewrite it. I predict the first thing you will do when you rewrite is cut out words, even sentences, and rephrase the writing, making it surprisingly shorter than it was.
Be direct. Be concise. That’s the best way to communicate in writing.