Qualities of expression: Importance of force

in-nuce.com: Importance of force
Fox laughing at the "forcible-feeble" ass.
Illustration by Arthur Rackham in Aesop's Fables
If your purpose in writing is to convey information, aim at clarity. If it is to persuade, aim at force, but beware of bluster. Your foxy audience will sniff out bologna if it's being used as a substitute for substance.
From Beginnings of Rhetoric and Composition, by Adams Hill: 


Importance of force

If a writer's sole purpose is to communicate information or to elucidate an abstruse or a complex matter, he will aim first of all at clearness; but if he wishes to interest his readers or to influence their opinions or their conduct, he will aim at force
To this end, he will often choose a word that suggests an idea rather than one that presents it with precision, a compact expression rather than one that develops his thought at length, a form of speech that is a little unusual rather than one that is commonplace. 
In such cases, clearness may sometimes seem to be sacrificed to force, but in point of fact it is not; for the word that is forcible though not exact, the expression that is compact though not complete, may be the clearest for the purpose in hand because, by stimulating the reader's attention, it enables him to grasp the meaning at once.
Valuable as force is when controlled by good sense and good taste, it may, if carried to excess, become a hindrance rather than a help to the reader. 
If every soldier in an army is decorated, a decoration is no longer a mark of distinction; if every expression is equally forcible, nothing stands out from the page. 
Even Carlyle, powerful as he is at his best, repels some readers and wearies others by his lack of moderation. In his writings, vehemence may be accepted as the natural expression of his force as a man; but a "forcible-feeble" imitation of his manner has a family likeness to Aesop's ass in the lion's skin.
"Forcible-feeble" writers call the mere copying of a thirty-page theme a "monumental work," and a small meeting "a tremendous gathering" with the "aisles filled to suffocation." This style of writing is what Emerson had in mind when he wrote as follows, in his lecture entitled "The Superlative" :—
We talk, sometimes, with people whose conversation would lead you to suppose that they had lived in a museum, where all the objects were monsters and extremes. . . . They use the superlative of grammar: "most perfect," "most exquisite," "most horrible." Like the French, they are enchanted, they are desolate, because you have got or have not got a shoe-string or a wafer, you happen to want, — not perceiving that superlatives are diminutives, and weaken; that the positive is the sinew of speech, the superlative the fat...
All this comes of poverty. We are unskilful definers. From want of skill to convey quality, we hope to move admiration by quantity. Language should aim to describe the fact... 'Tis very wearisome, this straining talk, these experiences all exquisite, intense and tremendous, — "The best I ever saw"; "I never in my life."
Within the limits set by the rules of good English and by the obligation to be clear, a writer who wishes to produce an impression on his readers should give as much force to his sentences as is consistent with temperance and good taste. He should 
(1) choose the word that drives home his meaning
(2) omit every clause, phrase, word, or syllable that does not help to convey his meaning, and
(3) so frame every sentence as to fix attention on what deserves distinction.

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