In the case of words—and just about everything else—quality wins over quantity. In my freelance writer role, I’m often asked how much do I charge for X words or X pages on a subject. I then find myself explaining the intrinsic value of quality over quantity. I usually admit that shorter text often takes longer to write, as brevity takes time and attention while running away at the keyboard is the same as rambling with a drink in front of you at a bar. IT’S EASY!
Writing—fiction, non-fiction, commercial content, and academic text—is all about finding the right words for the particular message. It might be the most precise words or the most persuasive. It could also be the most charming, alarming, inspiring, evocative, or mysterious words that could be used to communicate the same, or a similar, thought.
In fiction, it’s often about putting words in the mouths of characters. What words would that particular person use to describe that particular feeling, situation, activity, response or encounter? One character might think that an encounter is fraught with the potential for violence while another might interpret it as nothing in particular. A third character might sense sexual tension, while the fourth is so bored by the conversation, he will check out mentally and daydream!
The same is true for my freelance writing. Each client’s text has a “character” (or voice) and specific vocabulary that reflects the mandate, mission, or function of their project/organization/company. Creating that voice is turning into my specialty. It’s fun and it reminds me of writing fiction. The more QUALITY freelance writing I do, the more it feels like fiction and that’s a great change in the quality/quantity equation!
I don’t make a big distinction between my freelance writing and my fiction. This feels right to me, but it took a long time for me to get to this point. I think it’s because I’m always trying to do my best and it always comes down to telling a story. That story might be why corporations should sponsor an art show or the bio/motivation of the founders of a non-profit for their website or why consumers should consider the selling points of a new product—but it always comes down to telling a story in the right words.