Specifics

Apparently I’m still not being specific enough in my writing. Phrases such as “specified above”, or “close to indefinite” are give aways that I’m being vague with regards to an idea that I am (unconvincingly and unsuccessfully) expanding upon.

I think what’s happening here is that I write the way I write a computer program. When I write a piece of code, I tend to write a placeholder, either as a comment or as a function prototype, for a specified piece of functionality. I don’t write the whole function then and there. Once my overarching train of thought is complete, I go back and fill in the missing gaps of logic, i.e., the function body.

I connect this to the way I write prose, because I put in a placeholder word or phrase, vague though it is, with the intention of coming back later to fix it. But I have no way to tell in the text whether it was a placeholder or it is the actual text I wanted to write. It’s only when someone critically reads the piece of writing that it is pointed out to me that something is ambiguous or wishy-washy.

I wonder whether writers learn how to write clearly, the same way computer programmers are forced to write correctly functioning code? That is, is there a certain way to write prose that is clear and concise, and is this a skill that I can learn?

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