I looked over my daughter’s shoulder as she was studying the Civil War, and was reminded that the Gettysburg Address, one of the most well-known speeches of all time, was only three minutes long. Edward Everett, a prestigous orator of the time, spoke for two hours that day, but whose speech do we remember?
Only someone who has thoroughly mastered a subject can explain it briefly, but clearly. Any amateur can wallow around in unnecessary words until the reader is so confused he knows less than he did before. A true expert can bring the complicated to my level with clarity. Spareness in prose is a beautiful and elegant thing, as when a sculptor chips away everything that is not the sculpture, and all that is left is the art.
“If I had more time, I would write a shorter letter.” (attributed to Mark Twain)