“During the 1940s, a Harvard linguist, George Zipf, examined the properties of language and came up with an empirical regularity now known as Zipf’s law, which, of course, is not a law (and if it were, it would not be Zipf’s). It is just another way to think about the process of inequality. The mechanisms he described were as follows: The more you use a word, the less effort for you will find it to use that word again, so you borrow words from your private dictionary in proportion to their past use. This explains why out of the sixty thousand main words in English, only a few hundred constitute the bulk of what is used in writings, and even fewer appear regularly in conversation.”
There’s a story that circles the internet that claims, whilst lunching lunching at Luchow’s with a bunch of writer friends, Ernest Hemingway claimed that he could write a short story that was only six words long. Of course, the other writers balked.
The following is an excerpt from John Steel’s inimitable book ‘Truth, Lies and Advertising the Art of Account Planning’. Since reading it, the following passage has stuck with me as a powerful example of how well crafted messaging can be both simultaneously short and effective.