No, this is not a diversion into current politics. You don't want that: I can get rather... um... feral on that topic.
It's about economy of words. Good writing is economic. Words are not wasted.They matter. Even 'the' and 'a'. This is especially true of the start of novels and the whole of shorter works, but really good writers carry the principle through an entire novel. It's hard to find waste wordage in any Pratchett novel, for instance.
So what is waste wordage, and what is economic word use? Waste wordage doesn't advance the story, illustrate the characters, or do anything much beyond padding the word count. Economic wordage serves multiple levels of function, often without being obvious about it.
Of course, it's never really that simple. Think back to Amanda's post last Sunday, and the assorted 3 paragraph (or less) offerings that were sent in. Most of them managed to perform one task: usually cuing in the protagonist's anger. A few got a couple of things going: setting and protagonist motive. I tried to multi-purpose my offering - I was aiming to establish a sense of the character's nature, their motive, setting, hook, voice, and set up questions about what was going on, all in two paragraphs. I don't think I got all of those, but I came close enough that I'm satisfied with what I did.
The way this can be done is through secondary associations with word meanings - synonyms might mean the same thing, but they can have positive or negative connotations, they can associate with imagery, they can have entire layers of subtext that a reader might not consciously notice but which set mood and expectations. Take for instance "tired" and "weary". The general meaning is the same, but "weary" feels heavier, weighed down by some immense load. "Sadness", or "sorrow" - "sorrow" is more evocative of grieving, where "sadness" is blander. One might feel sadness, but sorrow, despite meaning the same thing, evokes more regret and possibly even tears.
You can run this exercise with any set of words a half-decent thesaurus produces. Each synonym has its own feel and its own level of specific meaning. The best craft and art of the writer is to find and use the words that are most evocative of the atmosphere they wish to create.
Of course, words don't exist in vacuum (except in my house, where Bugger shreds any paper he can get at, so mangled words often find their way into the vacuum). They need sentences to give them context and aim readers where the writer wants them to look.
Okay, so I wasn't exactly accurate about the politics: if you take a look at what the media produces, you'll find a lot of persuasive writing there, masquerading as fact. The cue lies in the descriptors. Words that have negative connotations get used to describe something the writer dislikes. That's useful for us to learn, not just so we can try to tease out what's really going on from the writer's slant, but so that we can use those techniques ourselves.
We have a few other advantages, too. A little knowledge of Latin and Greek word roots helps a great deal: 'Mal' or 'Mor' are very common in the names of evil characters for good reason: even made up words derived from those word bases sound sinister. Why? 'Mal' means 'bad', and 'Mor' is the base for 'death'. Someone named 'Voldemort' probably isn't going to be nice. Name a country 'Malistar' and your readers will look for bad things to come from there without you saying anything else. Some other goodies: 'Saur' - lizard. 'Tyran' - tyrant, which in modern terms implies cruelty and a whole raft of associated horrors. 'Lachryma' - tears/grief.
Now for the examples: I'm going to offer up two sample sentences, with one made up word for a character's name and each meaning the same thing. You'll see the difference.
"Elysia stood at the balcony, her gaze intent on the battered young warriors marching through the outer bailey."
"Mordana stood at the Imperial Balcony, glaring down at the defeated soldiers straggling through the Great Courtyard."
(Yeah, okay, neither of them is much good. That's not the point).
The basic meaning of both sentences is the same - there's a woman on a castle or palace balcony watching the guys who are coming back from some war or other. By using specific titles, it's a good guess that the woman in the second sentence is royalty. Her side lost, and she's not happy about it. And her name suggests she's not a nice lady.
The first woman, you'd be surprised if she wasn't the heroine or the love interest of the hero, probably sweet and gentle, and the implication is that she's looking to see if her husband or boyfriend survived - and that she doesn't really care if they won or lost, so long as her man made it. A few more cues in there would set up a lost love and kick off a plot.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a first paragraph (not too long, either, thank you) that implies plot, setting, voice, and the nature of the POV character. Anything else you can get in there is a bonus. Oh, and you're not allowed to tell anything. Once you've posted it, everyone can say what they get out of it, then you can add in what you meant to get across.