Writing long form

Is writing prose becoming a lost art?

Many of us live in a 140-character word.

Often in conversation, if you haven’t gotten to the point in less than two minutes, I start to lose interest in what you’re saying.

I just don’t have the patience to listen to anyone drone on, struggling to find what they’re meaning to say.

In journalism, it’s called ‘finding the nut’ and writing a great lede.

Big Valley 070

I started my writing career at a broadsheet. I was allowed to write and write and write and write and write … well, you get the point.

Then I moved to a tabloid. My stories had to become a little more succinct. ‘Jumps,’ also known as ‘continueds,’ weren’t cool at this shop. We didn’t want the our readers forced to search around the paper for the end of the story, then find their way back where they started.

It’s kind of like early UX design, I suppose.

Next stop was another broadsheet. But I found I couldn’t go back to writing 40- and 50-inch stories.

There’s an art in telling a story in 500 words or less. I’m sure of it. Damn sure.

And my editor, Gregg Drinnan, loved it. My short stories left lots of room for him to write more about the Kamloops Blazers!

And then back to a tabloid, a major metro, where whatever I had to write competed with an NHL club, a CFL team and more.

My 500-word stories on Junior A and Midget AAA hockey became 300-word stories … 200 … sometimes 150.

It forced me to an even more analytical stance on an event.

Find the ‘nut.’

Get to the point quickly.

Save the 10-dollar words.

I can still drone on … evidently … right here on this platform.

But I find myself better able to recognize when my thoughts start to wander and I ramble on, talking about nothing or even less than that and then …

Er, maybe I’ll just stop while I’m ahead.

What's on your mind?