Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

"When you have only a sentence or two, there’s nowhere to hide."

twitter.jpgTwitter turned five this week—an event celebrated by some and bemoaned by others. Is the (very) short form killing or helping our communication?

Writer and teacher Andy Selsberg argues that learning to write short can make you a better writer:

I don’t expect all my graduates to go on to Twitter-based careers, but learning how to write concisely, to express one key detail succinctly and eloquently, is an incredibly useful skill, and more in tune with most students’ daily chatter, as well as the world’s conversation. […] So a few years ago, I started slipping my classes short writing assignments alongside the required papers. Once, I asked them, “Come up with two lines of copy to sell something you’re wearing now on eBay.” The mix of commerce and fashion stirred interest, and despite having 30 students in each class, I could give everyone serious individual attention. For another project, I asked them to describe the essence of the chalkboard in one or two sentences.

The essay is eloquent and, appropriately, short. Read it in full on the New York Times website. And tell us: if you tweet or text, has it taught you to be more succinct, more careful about choosing details?

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