More or Less…
It seems I hear less and less of old-time and timeless expressions like “more or less.”
It is such a useful phrase, the perfect way to not-quite-commit to a fact.
You’ve heard it in conversation, right?
“What’d that set you back, a hundred bucks?”
“Yeah, more or less.”
“I heard that show was a dud.”
“It was, more or less.”
More or less is imprecise. When he wanted to express a near-miss, my Dad would say, “Almost, nearly, but not quite hardly.”
That’s more or less what more or less means.
In horseshoes and hand grenades, more or less may be all you need to succeed. But in mathematical equations, scientific evaluations, threading needles, shooting baskets, or sinking putts, precision is vital.
More or less won’t cut it.
So, there’s that. Then, there’s this…
Sometimes more is less and less is more.
Take writing, for example. For making a statement or leaving a lasting impression, nothing is more powerful than direct and to the point.
Charles Dickens begins his Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
J.M. Barrie opens his classic, Peter Pan with, “All Chidren, except one, grow up.”
Cora Hurston opens Their Eyes were watching God with the line, “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.”
Even the Bible opens with a simple, unforgettable sentence: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
IMPRESSIONS AND EXPRESSIONS…
When you construct the perfect sentence, when you strike that balance that impacts the reader in an unforgettable fashion, stop! Resist the temptation to fluff it up.
Write to express rather than impress and you will do both.
That goes for speaking, too.