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KISS - Keep it Short and Simple but is it always possible?




How often do you think about 'What is a good length for a post or even just for a piece of creative writing?'.  I see it all the time and there are many people who point out length of any proportion is too much - KISS is the rule, stick to it.  

I do not like the 'Keep it Simple, Stupid' or 'Keep it Short and Simple' acronym when referring to writing but I do when it comes to training.  When you are teaching it is always best to be precise and uncomplicated so that everyone can gain an understanding and learn.  However, when writing, it is different because it is so easy to get into the flow of words, sentences and paragraphs and very easy to miss the point, go off tangent and ultimately lose your audience. So does KISS work with writing?

I was specifically told anything over 300 words is too long.  Oh well! I blew that in the first paragraph on most of my pieces but it doesn't mean that people will switch off just because you wrote 500 plus words.

So my answer is 'not always'.  There are times when you have a specific point or story that you want to get across and yes keeping it short and simple is the best way to achieve this.  However if you are delving into discussion topics, analysing or need to explain different variables then no, keeping it short will not always work because your writing may lose its validity or the depth that is required to make your audience understand.

There are some points I try to consider when writing: 
  1. What is my point?  Did you start off writing with a topic in mind or did you just start writing because you need to get something out there today? Are you just ranting?  If I don't have a precise point but I've produced a short thesis, I take the main pieces and recommend keeping it short. Quality should not suffer for the sake of quantity and you never know but your first 1500 words of rambling might actually produce 400 words of quality content.
  2. Does my writing flow? I started talking about my friends birthday party and I've ended up talking about the perils of fishing in high heels.
  3. Can my readers breathe? Have I punctuated my words appropriately or does each one flow into a sea of unrelated words. If you take this "A woman without her man is nothing" it is open to interpretation however if you punctuate it like this: 'A woman, without her man, is nothing' or like this 'A woman: Without her, man is nothing.' you have two very distinct meanings to the sentence.
  4. Have I bored myself? Did I just write 1000 words that I really have no interest in re-reading, well if you can't be bothered, how do you think your readers feel?
  5. Do my readers understand this? The proof is in the comments, if you receive comments that do not relate to what you have written, the chances are your readers missed your point completely, generally that means you missed your point too (refer to point 1).
  6. Have I given the opportunity for engagement? Not just engagement but also have you made your reader think about what you have written, would you like to hear their point of views?  Unless it's a story I tend to ask lots of questions throughout most of my posts, mainly because I like to hear what people have to say but also because I like to make them think.
  7. Can I make it look more interesting?  For me good graphics and visualisation work just as well for keeping your audience reading; as would a short piece without them. 
  8. Shorter sentences make longer posts easier to digest.  Proper sentencing and paragraphing work wonders; regardless of whether the piece is short or long but a long piece of writing with no spaces is like a fine print contract to me - it holds little interest.
  9. Headings and Sub Headings - Your heading is going to be the first thing that most people see, a heading is often a reason why I read a piece of work by a writer I'm not familiar with.  Strategically placed sub headings can help to reinforce the point of a post but also engage me further. 
I fully understand the point of short posts being more favourable, given how busy everyone is and how as human beings we prefer to assimilate information but I do not feel there should be specific numbers to dictate how long your writing should be. 

There are lots of things you can do to make your writing appeal and just by engaging the most basic of them, the longer posts can be just as effective as the shorter ones. Are you someone who gets switched off by a long post before you have even read it or will you at least attempt to read it?






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