Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Big Words, Little Words

Upcoming Living Columns in the Edmonton Journal
Friday, October 31
Current Living article is up here.

Dan's musings on shyness and relationships can be found at

Recently at my office job, I had the assignment of paring down the City of Edmonton's emergency plan for easy reading.

At first I didn't think I could do it. It was incomprehensible.

Finally, out of desperation, I just started cutting words out of each sentenceI am until at last meaning rose out of the thicket of bureaucratese.

The initial emergency response of emergency services first
responders will result in an on-scene assessment of the situation. If
it is determined that the situation is beyond that of a normal
response, they will (in consultation with other agencies as
appropriate) determine the extent of the response that will be
required to deal effectively with the emergency, and notify the OEP

"The first guys there check everything out and then call for help if they need it."

I am a big fan of brevity. So much so, I considered eliminating 'big' from the previous sentence.

Maybe it's the stand up comedian in me. Less words = less confused audience + "punchier punchline" = Bigger and better laughs.

On the other hand, there's something to be said for being verbose. I'm writing a book right now (Dating for Shy Guys). I want the book to be as simple as possible so that someone with virtually no dating experience (like me two or three years ago) can pick it up and follow the bouncing ball.

It makes me realize how simple dating really is. I feel people are going to read the book and go, "Well, duh, everybody knows that (*)." I almost feel like I should add a few acronyms, jargon, and verbal razzle-dazzle to make myself sound smarter and more expert.

We'll see what happens, I guess.

(*) I've noticed Everybody knows a lot. I've also noticed that the gulf between what Everybody KNOWS and what Everybody actually DOES is much wider than Everybody cares to admit.

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