ALWAYS SAY LESS THAN NECESSARY
When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinx like. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.
A passage taken from one of my favorite books The 48 Laws of Power (Robert Greene) I wanted to share with my readers something that has been making me reflect on the power of words. Never has the above statement been so true. I receive lots of requests for reviews and advice and in my line of business I have many people ask for a service only to offer up an explanation of their situation or “too much information” in most cases they are pouring out reasons why I shouldn’t help them. This has led me to begin thinking about talking too much as it relates to writing.
As writers we tend to think more is better. However, it can actually have the reverse effect. I will give a few examples below along with a few reasons why saying less can actually help your cause.
“Talking” too much in your query Letter
A query letter is supposed to be a brief introduction. It introduces a publisher to you, your writing style and the work you wish them to publish. I have noticed the biggest mistake many writers make is over explaining their work. Quick example:
Dear Mr. Publisher,
My name is so and so and I would love to send you a copy of my manuscript it’s about a man who ran away from home. I am new to the writing game but all of my family and friends think I have potential. I believe you will love it if you give it a chance. There are a few errors I am having worked on but will send it to you and will take any advice you have to help with the finished product……..
I don’t know about you but that clearly reads “Amateur, unprofessional, unsophisticated” and the list can go on and on. When approaching a publisher present yourself and your work professionally even if you are unsure of the writing game. Keep things short and to the point. Add a bit of confidence but steer clear of overt arrogance. Remember you are coming to them for something but you are a potential asset.
In examining the above example the first thing that should stand out as being wrong is the name introduction and its request. “ My name is so and so and I would love to send you a copy of my manuscript“ Never introduce yourself and then state what you would love to do. Of course you would love to get your book in their hands but so would the thousands of other writers who send in submissions every week. Your introduction should state your name but also tell them who you are and the general reason for your query. By keeping things professional it shows that you are not a newbie in the industry or that you don’t know proper etiquette.
Saying Less Gets You Further
Has anyone ever been intrigued by the silent, mysterious type? They seldom speak but when they do it’s usually powerful, insightful or has a thought-provoking response? They are mysterious and by nature humans are curious and challenge seeking. A person who gives less may find themselves always surrounded by others seeking to figure them out or please them. Now on the reverse of that have you ever been around a person who talks so much it makes you want to run from them. Most likely you avoid them at every opportunity or they may start to contradict themselves. The same goes for writing. Only state what is necessary but do it in a way that it is both professional and appealing.
Never allow your over zealous or uncertainty to cause you to talk your way out of a publishing deal. Publishers have limited time and they are more likely to choose a writer who is confident and self-assured. Don’t give them any reason to say no before they read your masterpiece.
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