If you have a chance, pick up a copy of Microstyle – The Art of Writing Little by naming consultant Christopher Johnson. It’s about our new expressive economy in language: getting a lot of idea out of a little message. Johnson calls this the era of microstyle, a new era of verbal communication that technology made possible. Microstyle is part of a broader cultural phenomenon trending toward brevity.
Here’s a teaser:
So, how do you pack a lot of meaning into a little message? You don’t. That’s the first lesson of microstyle. A message isn’t a treasure chest full of meaning. It’s more like a key that opens doors. A message starts a mental journey, and meaning is the destination. A successful message sends people in the right direction but allows them to use their wits and the cues provided by context to get there. Keeping this in mind makes you think about how your message fits into a larger picture and points to ideas without expressing them directly. The interaction of message, mind, and context makes meaning happen.
The book is broken up into chapters, each of which covers an element of microstyle that will help maximize your communicative power.
Note to self: Think how the elements of microstyle, in collaboration with killer design, could be applied in health.
I recommend this one to anyone interested in how technology has impacted writing style. With the exception of some scattered linguistic dorkery (I figured I’d practice applying what I learned in Chapter 15 – Coin a new word), I found Microstyle to be fun, practical and easy to read. It offered an ant’s eye view at something that I’ve been arriving at quite innocently on my own.
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