cí shàng tǐ yào 辞尚体要
Succinctness Is Valued in Writing.
Writing should be substantive and succinct in expressing main ideas or key content. “Succinctness” means to capture the essence. The idea comes from The Book of History, originally referring to the requirement that government edicts and regulations should be terse and to the point. Liu Xie (465?-520?) applied this into literary criticism, emphasizing that writing should be both substantive and pithy, striving to capture the essence. This term reflects the traditional pursuit for “succinctness” in Chinese culture, which prefers to convey a rich message in a concise way rather than seek novel expressions that may overshadow the essence of the writing. Later on, this became a fundamental requirement for the classical style of writing and provided important guidance for literary creation.
What is most valuable for governance lies in its sustained stability, advocating substantial and straightforward wording, not seeking novelty. (The Book of History)
When discussing writing, The Book of Zhou (of The Book of History) believes that succinctness matters most. When recounting past lessons, Confucius detested unorthodox beliefs. (Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)