Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blog Post Length

I love to read.  That should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog.  However, sometimes I'll look at something and despair as to whether I should even get started.

War and Peace could be the greatest story ever told, but its heft has always dissuaded me from getting into it.  The same thing goes for blogs I read.  In my ever so humble opinion, a single blog post shouldn't be more than a page and a half.  Beyond that, it gets tedious and people start skipping whole paragraphs just to get to the end.  Instead, they'll skim the first sentence of each section and then move on.

We live in a world of people with short attention spans.  Even those who love to read will only put up with so much.  A writer who goes on ad infinitum appears to not be able to be direct and will just talk around every tagline without getting to the meat of the story.

When I check my posts for spelling and grammar, I cut and paste them into a Microsoft Word document. Most of the time they'll come out to a page, with some spilling over onto the next page by a line or two. If I cut and paste something that runs over half a page, I go back with a machete and figure out what needs to go. That's because I understand that the public dislikes rambling.

Maybe this is a consequence of what I do for a living when I'm not writing or blogging, but I can't stand when people drone on and on about stuff, no matter how interesting it might be.  Tell me what this means to me and why I should care!

Ever look at a paragraph - whether in a newspaper, a blog post, or in a book - and see nothing but a solid wall of writing?  Such things give me a sinking feeling, like, "How the hell am I ever going to get through this without stabbing myself in the eyeballs with a sharp stick?"  There's a reason why most writers keep their paragraph lengths to three to five sentences - it provides the illusion of breaking up the writing so people aren't overwhelmed.

Too many, from novels to the blogging world, shrug off this basic tenet.  What they have to say is so important that surely the public will understand.  And yes, the public might understand...once or twice.  However, when you make it a habit, you risk people finding something shorter that doesn't surge over their senses.

I admit that I might be off base here.  After all, I have only myself to use as a gage, but I think I'm a pretty good gage.  Much as I like some folks and enjoy hearing their thoughts, there are a few War and Peace size blogs I avoid.  That's not because they haven't found great insight, but rather because they want to dazzle me so much that they can't stop talking.  Please don't be that person.

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