I was perusing the contents of ‘Word Count’, an article written by a fellow blogger of mine, Cristian Mihai, which I found quite interesting and meaningful. He dealt with the theme of lengthy vs brief write-ups. There are writers who give very lengthy coverage words wise to their topic, and there are those who write frugally short. Counting words alone is not the matter. There are in fact two factors to determine the size of an article –one is the very theme that may require a voluminous coverage as against the subjects which may not need much more of words, and the other one is the writers own ability to express himself/ herself in a briefest possible manner with full justice to the very material concerned. Quality of writing in fact lies in the writer being brief but to the point without leaving the salient areas of the theme untouched. In this context, I am reminded of a story, which runs like this:
There was an Agent (presently Manager) at a branch in a far off place somewhere near Lahore (presently in Pakistan) under Imperial Bank of India (now State Bank of India). He was in the habit of writing big big letters to his controlling authorities at Kolkata, which was not liked by them with the result that they had to instruct him in strict terms to be brief while addressing any communications to them. What happened in the meantime was that there were heavy rains causing unprecedented floods taking the whole area into its lap including the Imperial Bank of India branch. Even the very strong room, obviously containing heavy cash, in the branch was fully submerged in water, which situation was bound to result into a colossal loss to the Bank.The Agent was at a fix and he felt extremely perturbed as he was unable to report the matter to his controlling authorities in a briefest possible manner, as per their instructions. Such a big matter to be reduced into a few words was his problem, but he had no go, he had to report the whole thing. He could ultimately do it. He reported the calamity with the body text containing “The river is where the branch was”. This was the whole letter.
Stretching the brevity element too far like this is too much of economising the words, which is certainly not the spirit behind being brief. Being brief is alright, but if it compromises the very essence of the relative message, it is in no way, and not at all, desirable.