Verbosity may win elections and sell books but it just doesn’t work on the internet so I have to find ways to make my inclination toward long explanations and descriptions sit down and shut up when I’m blogging, sharing on Facebook, sending emails and especially on Twitter.
I was reading another blog this morning about a subject that interest me but found I suddenly shut down after about 500 words. Like most people who are reading things on their computers or phones I want it quick and concise. I don’t want several subjects in one article.
As a news journalist I learned some tricks about writing. The upside down triangle was the most important. You have to answer the “who, what, where, when, why and how” in the first paragraph. Then expand on the most important things first leaving the least to last. This is done in the news industry because an editor may have an ad to place in the paper which is far more important than your article so the last two paragraphs have to be cut off.
Writing that way on the internet is not quite so easy. There is a much more familiar and personal approach to most internet medium but some of the principal can be used.
Twitter makes it easy. Go over the character count and red numbers appear. You have to learn to be concise. Facebook is more generous although using short introductions and keeping it simple gets far more attention than long stories.
Emails which have multiple subjects are dangerous. People often read the first few lines even of a long email. Often points get missed because they were somewhere in a long body of writing and were skimmed over because they didn’t relate to the subject line. If there are multiple subjects to address it is likely best to send separate emails for each or at least make headings and points so it’s easier to read.
In a blog there is certainly more room for expansion of a thought and it is encouraged but I think it is important to keep the thoughts limited. For example if I am writing about my school days back in the 50’s and sixties there are many topics which could spring up. The friends, recess and long lunches, using pens, different subjects that we took, boy and girl doors in the school and so on. While all of it is provides wonderful fodder for writing it is likely most likely to be read if I keep to one topic. Perhaps the “girl and boy” doors would be good one.
If my article is taking off in many directions, I need to pare back my thoughts and redefine the parameters so it will be readable.
I am not sure what the psychology is about the reading on the internet but I know my attention does not stay on an article which floats over the 500 word mark very well and so I will cut it off here.