Shorter is Better, But Hey – Style Matters!

I just read a quick Copyblogger post by Jim Estill about blogging as “Shorter is Better.” It was pretty well done — short, of course — providing a general overview of why it’s good to write clean, brief and concise blog posts.

I do mostly agree it’s no fun to both read and write long anything these days, but no writer should have to mute their individual style just to get their point across. The length of a sentence – or an entire post for that matter – should be no more than what conveys the information via the unique voice of its author.

Just imagine if everything sounded the same on the web — what would be the appeal of reading other than to systematically derive facts and information for consumption? If bloggers are to survive in this fiercly competitive web, than we need to still be mindful that writing of any kind can always be a work of beauty. Humans are naturally attracted to beauty – we always have been and always will be. Am I right on this?

In fact, Estill quotes Mark Twain, which I’ll repeat:

I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English – it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.

~Mark Twain, March 20, 1880

Sure, what Twain says is right on the money. But Twain is also better known for his style, for writing with wit and elegance and charm. His books are by no means short. He was concise, but also as relaxed and animated as a campfire storyteller. I doubt if Twain were a blogger would he be so cut and dry and, how should I say…boring. 

Now don’t get me wrong: Estill makes a good point and I support it. I know he’s not advocating us bloggers to completely lose our voices. We must indeed write as if every word serves a premium purpose to deliver our essential message. But don’t for one second let this “rule” kill your style, or think that because shorter is better then longer must be worse. Bottom line: get to the point and let yourself shine through!

Did anyone get to the end of this or was it too long?

End note: If you have a chance, go and read some of Arianna Huffington’s editorials. She’s got style if you ask me. And keep in mind that her blog, The Huffington Post, is the #1 blog in the world according to Technorati.

2 Replies

  1. Kelly Hobkirk Reply

    Excellent post Charles! It would indeed be interesting to see how Twain, Hemingway, and a host of other prolific authors might deal with writing blogs today.

    (It’s been a while since I’ve read Huffington – Thanks for the reminder.)

  2. Charles Reply

    Thanks for your comment, Kelly. I appreciate that you stirred things up a bit there at Copyblogger. Sometimes comments can be overly-compliant and too much in agreement.

    Yeah – Hemingway crossed my mind on this subject as well, naturally. 🙂