When enough is enough

If you’ve been hanging around here long enough, you remember a time when posts could have unlimited word counts. No 500 word plus 100 grace cap on posts meant that we were all free to pontificate indefinitely about anything and everything. As a result, some posts lost the interest of readers and editors long before the point was made. The lack of cut off was sometimes used as a crutch, with the writer explaining again and again what he or she wanted to say without the pressure to say it once and say it well. Some posts would tell three mediocre stories that, had each been given its due in a separate piece, each one could have been fabulous. Enter the word limit and all that went away. But a new stumbling block entered our realm: the too-short post.

If 500 is best, 200 must be the bestest!

Now we urge you to cut away the words you don’t need, finding the best ones to tell your story without boring someone to tears with flowery prose. Notice I said the best words, not the fewest words. There is no prize here for telling the shortest story. 

When a post is too long, assuming we get to the end of it, often we are left unsure of the point. Or we forgot the point because it was buried in a mess of unnecessary descriptive words. But when it’s too short, we feel robbed of the opportunity to see what was so great about your tale in the first place. We stand firmly behind the notion that it’s best to trim the tangents that don’t support your main thesis or to cut the back story a reader could infer without your blatant explanation.  But when you lose the middle two-thirds of the story, essentially yadda-yadda-ing over the best part just to squeeze in the punch line, we feel like you set us up. 

There is a happy medium, and I tell you that knowing full well how elusive it can be sometimes. But you must strive to find it, not just in your challenge grid posts but in all of your writing. Write every single essential part and write only the essential parts. Read, edit, re-read, read aloud and read again until you get to the core. When you get there, you’ll feel it.

This month at yeah write

Our newest perk package: The 2013 Best American Series

October means the publication of the latest The Best American Series, and for the next several months, our perk package awarded on the challenge grid will include three books from that series: Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays and Best American Non-Required Reading. Some of our editors will throw in their personal favorites, and we will occasionally offer our classic writing bundles featuring Stephen King and Anne Lamott. The perk packages are our way of saying thank you for being so faithful to the cause of promoting the good works of others while practicing the craft of writing for an online audience. There are so many other places you could be each week, and we thank you for sticking with us.

Odds, ends, reminders

  • This immediate past Sunday is the earliest your submission can be dated
  • Your post can be no longer than 600 words
  • Personal essays or traditional blog anecdotes only
  • There are no weekly prompts; the topic is yours. Be compelling
  • The grid is open from Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. to Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. 
  • There is voting. Voting will take place Thursday from midnight to 10:00 p.m. US eastern 
  • The challenge grid is limited to 50 bloggers
  • The winners’ post will be published by noon on Friday
  • No self-promotional posts are allowed on the yeah write grid, including those containing links to other blog events and Internet contests

Welcome to the 2013 fall writing season at yeah write weekly writing challenge

Yeah write #131 is open. Bring us your best stuff.