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Short and Sweet | Will Rogers

One virtue every writer needs is the ability to create single sentences containing a world of wisdom. Great writing is not always measured by the page, but by the line.

When you as a budding writer set out to be interesting and readable, remember that readability exists first in small doses. As words expand into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs, you look eagerly for the perfect whole—the fine poem or essay.  But such perfection is really found at the basic level of expression, the finely crafted sentence.

It is likely that many writers will be remembered best for their shortest expressions, not their longest works. To be quotable is to be literarily immortal. The world always has room for little pearls. Pyramids are nice, but they do take up space and are hard to transport.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) was a great American humorist. His talents included acting and newspaper writing, but today no one would claim many of his columns are relevant or worthy of the highest praise. However, no one can see a day when his quotable lines will die off. They are just too good to forget.

Some samples:

“Everything is funny as long as it is happening to someone else.”

“I never met a man I didn’t like.”

“You can’t say civilization don’t advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.”

“I am not a member of any organized party—I’m a Democrat.”

In short, be short, think short, and the rest will take care of itself.