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Critique Technique, Part 47—Padding

By Ross B. Lampert

A filled packing box

Photo by slideshowmom via

There are times when padding is acceptable, even desirable. When preparing something fragile for shipping, for example. Or filling out a Santa Claus suit. But in writing? Not so much. Not today, anyway.

Back in the day, that is, back in the pre-Hemingway years, padding was acceptable, even expected. Check out anything written by Henry James, for example. “Never say in ten words what can be said in fifty” must have been his motto. No, sorry, more like, “Never say in a mere, miserly ten words, my good man, I exhort you, from the bottom of my soul, not to mention the bottom of my inkwell, what could be said, with the greatest of sincerity, depth, and yet extravagance, in not less than fifty, if not more.” There...

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