My friend Nicola Morgan has been asking people to pitch their books in 25 words. (There is an ulterior motive of course but do go and have a look at her blog post about it on "Help I need a Publisher".)
Now, I tried just because I thought I should. I cannot do it. I can do succinct. I cannot do this in 25 words or less.
Oh yes, I can say that my young hero has found a body. I can say his parents have been killed. I can say he is on the run. I can tell you he is running from the people he should be able to trust. At the second attempt I put that into 24 words. It sounds boring. Put like that it is boring.
In my first attempt I had informed the reader that my young hero is eleven and that the body he has found is by no means a fresh corpse. Both those things had to come out for Nicola's purposes. I understand what she was getting at but, for me, it did not work. (I told her this and she agreed that the second attempt was not actually gripping.)
There are things that matter here. They need to be said for the idea to have any impact. The likelihood of a child falling over a fresh corpse is pretty low - and it would not suit the story line at all. I have tried to suggest a scenario where an old corpse might well be found - and no, it is not in a graveyard. (It matters that my hero is eleven and not twelve too but that could come out for Nicola's purpose.)
I have written the first draft of this book. I am working on the revisions. Despite the apparently trite story line I think it may work. One adult has seen it and said nice things and, of the ending), "All the clues were there but I did not see that coming." That is the way I want it to be.
But, if I try to put it into twenty-five words, or less, it does not work. It needs the words "long dead" to suggest there is something more than "boy finds body, parents get killed, he's on the run".
I think it is possible to say too little. Some things simply need more words.