I was in Barnes and Noble a few nights ago and saw a book whose title claimed it was the iPhone’s missing instruction manual or some such. It was about 500-600 pages long – a great, huge, thick thing, costing $25.
I grinned. Or maybe grimaced. Steve must be turning over in his grave, I thought. His philosophy was just the opposite: make a product so simple to use, so intuitive, that it required no operating manual.
Steve embraced the most famous acronym in computing: KISS, for Keep It Simple, Stupid.
The same is true in writing. The only writing manual you’ll ever need is Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, fewer than 100 pages of wisdom, first published back in 1959. It was Professor Strunk who cried out in his college English classes, “Omit needless words!”
Strunk and Jobs would have been best buddies. They both understood the KISS principle and really put it into practice.
Business authors do well when they follow the KISS principle, too. Business book readers are a pretty smart bunch; that’s why they buy books. They don’t really need a textbook; often all they need is to be reminded about a subject or trend or method, then updated with new ideas for how to use it.
And while you’re writing your book, omitting needless words, be sure to omit the big ones in favor or simple ones. It’s far better to impress with the depth and breadth of your thinking than with unnecessarily extravagant eloquence.