One-Liner Wednesday — Brevity

2E131322-2144-4A3D-A792-984B83EDC4B9My wife asked last week me if I didn’t “get” the concept of a one-liner. “Why would you ask me that?” I asked her. She then proceeded to point out how long my responses to Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday prompts usually are. “Way more than one line,” she said. “Does everyone who responds to her one-liner prompt do that?” she asked. I told her that most did not. “So why, then, do you?”

I explained to her that the reason my One-Liner Wednesday posts exceed one line is because I like to help people understand why I decided to choose whatever one-liner I chose and what it means to me.

“But it’s supposed to be a one-line response,” she said. “When you respond to a 100 word prompt, do you write 100 words and then add another 200 or 300 words explaining why you wrote the first 100 words?”

“No,” I said.

“Then you should limit your One-Liner Wednesday post to one line. To quote Shakespeare,” she added, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

“Perfect,” I said. “I’m going to use that Shakespeare quote for my next One-liner Wednesday post.”

I think my wife will be very pleased when she sees how I’ve taken her advice.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

img_1370I read a post yesterday in which a blogger I recently started to follow, The Haunted Wordsmith, quoted a so-called blogging expert who wrote, “In my opinion, no beginning blogger should be publishing anything under 1,000 words. And really, 2,000 words should be your goal.”

I’m sorry, but ain’t nobody got time for that. Well, speaking for myself, anyway, I don’t have the time to read posts that are between 1,000 to 2,000 words, much less to compose posts of that length. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading long posts. I do. But I’m more likely than not to skip such posts because I just don’t have the bandwidth.

Wait. If you tend to write longer posts, let me explain before you get pissed at me.

My full-time job is not blogging. Well, truth be told, I’m retired now, so I don’t have a job at all — full-time or even part-time. And I’m not a professional blogger. I don’t make a single, solitary cent from my blog. Blogging is just something I enjoy doing and I do it in my spare time.

I probably spend three, maybe four, hours a day on WordPress. A third to a half of that time is spent writing, proofreading, editing, fixing, and posting my own posts. The rest is spent reading and commenting on other bloggers’ posts.

Three or four hours a day may sound like a lot of hours, but it’s really not. I do have a life and I try very hard to ensure that my life is not consumed by writing or reading blog posts. So, in order to publish my own posts — usually two to four posts a day — plus read those of others who I follow or who comment on my posts, I have to manage my WordPress time effectively.

That means that I can’t spend a whole lot of time reading longer posts. And by “longer posts,” I generally mean posts longer than 500 words. Okay, 600 words if posted by some of my favorite bloggers (and you know who you are).

Yes, some of you might have noticed that sometimes I will write a post that exceeds 500 words. This post, for example, has 549 words. It’s rare, but it happens. And I will certainly understand and accept that there are those who, like me, can’t invest the time it takes to read longer posts.

I admit that by skipping posts that go much beyond 500 words, I am missing some great posts from some great bloggers. But if I can read three or four 300 to 500 word posts in the time it takes me to read one 1,500 word post, I can read more posts and get to experience more bloggers.

Besides, there’s something to be said for brevity. The late Al Neuharth, founder of, and columnist for, USA Today, wrote that “long-winded stuff loses the attention of listeners and readers.” He quoted FDR, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain, all of whom made comments about how difficult it is to be concise in one’s writing. Twain, for example, said, “If I had more time, I’d write shorter.”

Again, I’m not saying that I won’t read your posts if I follow your blog. But I just might skim (or skip) the longer ones. It’s not you. It’s me.

Because as Sweet Brown famously said:

Flash Fiction

 

Hemingway

Flash fiction seems to quite fashionable in the blogosphere these days. Much more so than when I first started blogging a dozen years ago and more than when I quit my last blog around two years ago.

At least half of my posts since I returned to blogging this past May are flash fiction, and many of those pieces are in response to other bloggers’ prompts.

But what exactly is “flash fiction”? Its definition seems kind of fluid. It’s obviously fiction, we can all agree on that. But I’ve seen it characterized as stories ranging from “extremely brief” to up to 2,000 words. The idea is to tell an entire story — beginning, middle, and end — within the specified word limit.

Many of the flash fiction prompts I participate in set word limits, usually between 100 to 200, although some I’ve seen set even lower limits while others set no limits. Some set limits based upon the number of sentences or paragraphs rather than words.

I am challenged by flash fiction with word limits because I’ve never been a very concise writer. Left to my own devices, I tend to write longer posts. In fact, I wrote an entire post back in July about how brevity in writing is not my strong suit. That post was almost 500 words long!

But that’s why I participate in these flash fiction prompts. They force me to tell my story in fewer words than I would otherwise use. They require me to be brief, concise, selective in my choice of words.

Besides, who has time to read a 500-plus word blog post in these days?


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “fashionable.”