Another thing I learned along the way is inverted storytelling. Tell it once in a sentence at a high level, again in a paragraph later on, and then again at greater length in the body of the document. Put the key stuff first and the supporting details later, even if (because?) the supporting details are technical, intricate, and show off your mastery. If you can't put the idea in a sentence, you're doing something wrong.
Keep it short, sweet, and interesting. (If you've ever been on the other side, having to read some of this crap, you can really appreciate it.) ;-)
My writing was also ruined by highschool English rewarding large word counts and overblown language. Twitter has completely broken me of the habit, and my writing is far clearer and punchier as a result.
Eschew excess verbiage and all that.
Using the second definition, this quote makes sense only with the inclusion of "excess".
It's truly amazing what you can do with so few words.
The rounds of contest stories are linked in the first post. The contest was inspired by this: http://www.wunderland.com/WTS/Andy/Nanofiction.html
Coincidentally, one of the people whose writing I've grown to respect the most is Stallman. Whether or not I agree with some particular essay, his points are always really clear and accessible.
In early high school, I would have dismissed his writing--it doesn't feel sophisticated or fancy. Now I realize that clear and concise writing is both harder to come by and more effective than it seems. It's certainly more impressive--in a subtle sort of way--than most essays with complicated sentences and large words.
Even if you disagree with his core tenets, his essays are worth reading simply because they are so readable. It should also give you a better idea of his core philosophies: in my experience, many people have rather inaccurate views of what free software is actually about and why it matters.
It wasn't enough to bullshit. It could only take you so far. You only did well if you could surgically read into what was written and explore it prosaically and pragmatically.
I have to disagree with this point. Using "big words" (or "fancy vocabulary words"), often makes it difficult to reach the minimum word or page count. "plant that emerges from its seed with a singular leaf" for example, is 40 characters (9 words) longer than "monocotyledon".
However, this can be a trap when trying to engage executives who may not have the expertise or the patience. (I've put myself in this trap many times, unfortunately.)
You can sign up for a free Mimiran account (http://www.mimiran.com/pricing-signup/), which includes a couple of sample proposals which are based on real winning proposals.
You can also check out the http://www.mimiran.com/proposals/ section of the website, which has a number of posts on writing compelling proposals.
Check them out and see if you agree with the ideas we are, ummm, proposing. ;-)