|This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest. Here’s mine for the week ending Feb. 8, 2020.
|Link to This week’s full list|
|Link to my Story Blog. Come share a laugh with me.|
Good day all. Thanks for stopping by.
Today, (post crazy week @ work) I’m trying to catch up with gobs of neglected stuff.
It’s a nice – if chilly, very sunny day in the lower wine vineyard region of Sonoma County. I’ve just finished my 4th 16 oz. mug of tea and an ready for the day. Let’s see, 4 x 16 = 64 oz. Try that with coffee guys!
I’ve gotten through some reading I always try to start my day with and part of today’s stack took me to some of the history of Alexis de Tocqueville from the 1830s France and US.
Many of you will recall that he wrote a lot of what became important 3rd party analysis of how the US functions and succeeds in establishing some degree of social equity for its citizens. There’s a lot in this, but it was a wonderful way to start the day with some high protein intellectual meat for thought.
Because Mr. Tocqueville’s writing has also been accused of being tedious and hard to understand, this got me thinking about writing formats. So, I have a thought to bounce off of you. If you’ve read much of my work, either in permanent stories or my weekly coffee shares, you’ve seen me order some of my discussions in numbered or bulleted lists.
For me this had to come from all the technical and some times educational, status or persuasive items I produce as part of my job. Specifically, in technical writing, the author has to be tightly ordered and lay out facts in a manner that are easy to read to provide the reader an easy means of consuming what might otherwise be an overly dense paragraph with lots of important detail and is in a form that is easy for the reader to immediately circle back and review each point in excruciating detail.
Okay, that last paragraph was a painful read. I understand, but I wrote it that way to make my point. It was a hard read. But what if I had formatted it differently? Try this version of the same words just laid out differently:
- For me this had to come from all the:
- technical and some times,
- status or
- persuasive items I produce as part of my job.
- Specifically, in technical writing, the author has to be:
- tightly ordered and
- lay out facts in a manner that are easy to read to
- provide the reader an easy means of consuming what might otherwise be an,
- overly dense paragraph with lots of important detail and
- is in a form that is easy for the reader to immediately circle back and review each point in excruciating detail.
Even with that long run-on thought halfway through the second sentence, don’t you agree that this degree of detail presented in this form helps the reader follow what the author is trying to say?
If you wanted to go back and assure your understanding of what was being said, do you agree that this ordered list really helps.
Now, you can’t really, nor should you even try to layout a whole novel in this format. That would all but kill the reason many of us read in the first place – for the joy of how well-chosen words can flow through our minds and build images of characters, their challenges and thoughts, how a story unfolds in ways that tug at our hearts or put us in fear of a fictional character’s safety.
That said, I like to use this type of ordered list sometimes because they also carry a voice inflection when writing in first-person can enhance the fun of reading. I have used this device myself and like the mental sound and feel of it. If interested you can see it in use near the end of a story that, arguably my friends and I should not have survived, but we did, in: The Eucalyptus Sprouts Adventure.
– – = = ( o ) = = – –
In this same vein, what is your opinion of Memes? You know, those images with just a short sentence or phrase that captures some small thought, normally meant to be funny somehow. They seem to have become social media’s main vocabulary.
Don’t they just scream at you about how short the attention span is for many people these days? If you can make it fit into a meme, you’ll have hundreds of viewers or readers just by dropping it into the flow of whatever app you like to communicate with. But if your writing has no image and anything more that a few short sentences, your chances of being read drops in inverse proportion to the word count.
So what actually came first: the meme or ‘flash fiction’?
My own kids, all now in their mid 20s, tell me that for their generation, memes are a primary means of communication. I want to scoff, but I can think of few books that draw an audience like a viral photo of a cat making smart remarks.
Is this not the essence of why we want to make our writing tight and short? New War and Peace epics stand little chance of being read – because, who would take the time?
This really is the main reason I decided early on to limit all my stories (for now) to 2000 works or less. Asking someone for 10 minutes is tough enough and when your humor competition is succeeding with photos of Jean Luc Picard of Star Trek Next Generation, asking acidic rhetorical questions.
I’ve been tempted to call my next writing project; something – something, a meme-free zone. But now I believe this would limit my audience to a very low double digit number of readers. Perhaps I could design and release a meme as a title for a new story collection. . . Hmmm, or would that just defeat the whole intended purpose?
Sigh. . .
Okay, that’s it for me for now. I’d love to hear your reactions.
If you post a coffee share, I’ll see you soon over there shortly. Thanks for stopping by.