The always interesting Roy Clark presents a list of “25 Non-Random Things About Writing Short.” Here are a random items from his non-random list:

  • Keep a journal where you practice short writing.
  • Obey Strunk & White: "Omit needless words."
  • Beware: The infinite space on the Internet creates aerated prose.
  • Obey Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch: "Murder your darlings."
  • That said, every short passage should contain one gold coin, a reward for the reader.
  • Obey Donald Murray: "Brevity comes from selection, not compression."
  • The more powerful the message, the shorter the sentence: "Jesus wept."
  • The best place for an important word in a short passage is at the END.
  • Begin the story as close to the end as possible.
  • Treat all short forms of journalism –- headline, caption, blurb, blog post –- as literary genres.

Blogs have shown that anyone can write 1,500 words. A lot of people can do it well. Saying something smart in 500 words, though, seems to be rare skill.


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