Dense Writing Does Not Get Read

I recently interviewed EzineArticles expert author and Clinical Psychologist Dr. Pauline Wallin for a new $27 short course (MP3 and PDF) called “The 7 Biggest Mistakes That Professionals Make When Writing For The Web.” It’ll be out in less than a week and uncovers some of the critical science behind getting a higher return from your article writing & marketing efforts.

In the process of the interview, Dr. Wallin said:

“Dense writing – no matter how important or compelling, does not get read.”

Let’s think about that for a moment…

How can you make your articles more fun to read and with less eye strain for your reader?

My advice: Keep the word count under 1000 words, keep your paragraphs less than 7 sentences long and keep your sentences less than 25 words long.

What’s your best advice about how to reduce the eye strain for those who read your articles?

88 Comments »


1
Lisa Sparks writes:

Chris,

Here are my three favorite tools for fighting article content density:

– Bullet Points

– Numbered lists, and

– Bolded sub-headings

The all help to make the information I present my readable – which encourages the reader to take action and benefit quickly from my advice.

Thanks,

Lisa

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 1:48 PM

[Reply]

2

Chris: Good advice. There’s enough “dense” stuff today in our world. My writing style (by my nature) has always been conversational. I’m a verbal person. Some would say too verbal. But, hey it works for me and it’s enjoyable. Unless you are writing about death, serious illness, social injustice or war, lighten up.

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 1:51 PM

[Reply]

3
Edward Weiss writes:

This may be unusual, but I suggest looking into the copywriting articles on this site.

Copywriting MUST capture attention and deliver on its promises. Plus, many authors here may benefit from learning how to “sell” their expertise better. And once again, I recommend EzineArticles author Ben Settle. Read a few of his articles and you’ll see the opposite of dense. :)

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 2:03 PM

[Reply]

4
Cathy Stucker writes:

Do not fear white space. It is your friend.

Bullet points are great for chunking content into easily-digested bits.

Vary sentence length to keep the attention of readers. Follow a long sentence with a shorter one, but avoid run-on sentences.

Use bold and italics sparingly. Special effects are good for calling attention to headings and key points, but do not use them for large blocks of text.

Oh, and writing something interesting always helps!

Cathy

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 2:49 PM

[Reply]

5
Strephon writes:

My experience is: to entice people to read your articles, have something to say.

Yes, to varying sentences and all that. But what I have found is article writers don’t necessarily have good enough information to be worth the read.

-before writing, make a list of your key points. Are they worth saying? Are they powerfully said?

-are they real, which means, are they your own or just something picked up from some other article without your experiencing the point yourself?

-the worst thing you can do as an article writer is not know your subject area to the core through good thinking, reseach and experience

-have you done the research to get the best key idea from every article you read on the subject worth presenting to others?

-have you cut the fruit from the tree, or are you cutting off branches as well, and even trying to sell the whole tree?

-are you being self-important, or are your key ideas more important than you are? The reader will know!

-Lastly, do you believe enough in what you write to use it yourself with good results?

Thus, if you convey the passion and clarity of your own experience, and not just someone else’s ideas, you are bound to write valuable and easily read copy, something that inspires one to action.

Ask yourself: does this article inspire one to action?

-Strephon Kaplan-Williams of StrephonSays.com
creativity psychologist and author of The Writer’s Interface

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 3:43 PM

[Reply]

6
Gary Simpson writes:

I do believe that I made all these points – and more – in my article on the subject:

http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Write-an-Uncommonly-Good-Article—Six-Key-Steps-Part-1&id=86338

Perhaps it would be a good time now to write Part 2. (If only I could find the notes that I made!)

Regards

Gary

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 4:29 PM

[Reply]

7
Ben Settle writes:

Thanks Edward, that’s extremely kind of you to say.

All I do is try making it easier to keep reading than to stop reading.

Ben

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 5:18 PM

[Reply]

8
Lance Winslow writes:

I find it interesting that on one hand we are telling people not to use conversational type writing and longer articles. Now we are telling people to make the articles less dense?

Well, then is it finally safe “politically correct” to admit that the average Internet reader has a low reading level and the attention span of a house fly? Can I please say that now, without everyone jumping all over my case. It is the truth, but for some reason you are not allowed to say it.

Now we are all beating around the bush with all kinds of nifty ways to write articles people will read and all sorts of advice, but why? The reason is that people have shortened attention spans, are click happy and most do not read that well.

If you really wish to increase readership all clip art in the articles, a 100,000 or 500,000 web-picture inventory “duty free and copyright free” and then writers can put that into the articles? That is the real long term solution.

Of course one cannot deny that all the above advice is indeed, smart thinking and great pointers. Yet perhaps we might address the reason why people do not read dense stuff as I am paging thru these books on my desk; Platom Henry Kissinger Essays and Bill Moyer’s interview with Isaac Asimov.

Maybe dense articles on subject that readers are interested in might help them appreciate higher caliber writing? Maybe not too and maybe that mission would be to the detriment of the current trends of pop-culture, cutesy, fluff? Hard to say really. It is an unfortnate trend of “dummying down” of readers on the Internet. Anyone care to address the root cause of why article authors must write less dense stuff instead of simply advising them to do so? Perhaps of interest?

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 5:21 PM

[Reply]

9
Darlene Wall writes:

I enjoyed reading the comments of Lance Winslow. One can see that to “be dense” or not, is really not the question; it’s who are you writing to.

Once you know who you are writing to and what the purpose of your article is, the easier it is determine how you want to set up your article.

I have just started reading some of your articles at this site. I am looking for information on internet marketing. I am looking for quality content, as in, real useful information that is well written; clear and concise, and all that good stuff. The more info in one article the better, dense away!

There are times when short paragraghs, bullets, etc. are the way to go. When you know your audience and your purpose, you will know where and when you would use this writing style or not.

Signed, the fly who will stay stuck on a sticky article if it is filling my needs. Thanks all!

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 5:48 PM

[Reply]

10
Lance Winslow writes:

Darlene,

Well I would say that you pretty much sumed it up. Of course online articles are not “white papers” although now some Internet Futurists from the World Future Society are now ask the question;

“Will Internet online articles replace White Papers of the Future?”

So, with that statement there seems to be room for both the denser articles and the quicky articles of lets say the same basic length of most of the news articles on the Internet. 250-350 words, nothing too brilliant, just; who, what, when, where and how?

Actually, I have written some of both. Lots of piece of cake, easy light reading filler and some heavier stuff that borderlines white paper style, although not quite that dense. Either way, lots of viewers of both. And yes totally different audiences as you state.

Lance

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 9:12 PM

[Reply]

11
Gary Simpson writes:

Back again.

I’m following this with some interest.

I think Lance is correct – just write for your intended reader. If they like what you write then they will read all or most of it. If you bore the crap out of them they will click off.

Hey, they ALL click off anyway – the trick is to get them to click where you want them to click – not that little “x” or the back button.

Having said that – really – there is no excuse for poor writing now. There are so many courses and so much info.

If you write junk then all you do is alienate people from reading anything futher that you write.

Just practice a lot and edit at least twice (preferably more) before you commit your baby to cyberworld.

Gary

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 9:19 PM

[Reply]

12
Lance Winslow writes:

Gary,

Good point, in that the total objective is to get them to click on your byline and if not interested, maybe read another article of yours or heck, let them click on an click ad so our friends at EzineArticles can get paid for their troubles.

Like you said, do not let them hit that red “X” in the top right corner of their browser program or the back button back to MSN, Yahoo or Google. Excellent points you have made and yes, for goodness sake, edit your articles and read them thru, they are not Blog posts, they are articles!

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 9:47 PM

[Reply]

13
Darlene Wall writes:

What a fine dance article writers must dance!

I am simply reading all the articles one writer has written ( and there are tons ) because there seems to be such well written and thorough information.

But when will I click to his site? Probably not until I’ve read all his articles, and then maybe never because I already feel I’ve gotten all the info I need.

I’m currently an article freeloader. I am only one in your audience on an information gathering spree.

I can see that yours is no easy task!

Much respect to you.

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 10:01 PM

[Reply]

14
Strephon writes:

For effective article writing don’t give your reader all that he or she wants.

How about that? Darlene led me to that. How to write your article, as in good fiction writing, to give the reader only half of what they want and leave them dangling with a suspense issue at the end of the chapter to want more?

Will this get people clicking and reading more because they want more?

You have made them more curious or serious about your subject.

Should you satisfy article readers or keep them working?

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 1:21 AM

[Reply]

15
Gary Simpson writes:

Good point Strephon,

Sort of like giving them a junior burger with a small fries. Keep ’em a bit hungry. Make ’em want the double cheeseburger, big fries and a gallon of coke to wash it all down. Super size me!

Maybe I should use a pseudonym – something like Nelson de Mille or Jeffrey Archer – LOL!

Gary

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 1:30 AM

[Reply]

16
Strephon writes:

Gary,

You’re hot today, I see! I have that at times also when the energy flows.

For everybody, I went to Gary’s article and got good information from it, so to me this is an example of writing an informative article worth reading by someone who has direct experience with the subject matter. I recommend it highly.

http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Write-an-Uncommonly-Good-Article‚¬€Six-Key-Steps-Part-1&id=86338

Now I add, also as a writer of published books, some analysis of one of Gary’s points to add clarity rather than criticism. Maybe, if I have a valid point, it shows how difficult it is to refine an article to perfection? So this is given in the spirit of further refining the information.

Gary’s point 3 in his article is as follows: ‘Keep your paragraphs to one key theme. Arrange them logically. That is, present one idea per paragraph and stick to it. If you want to say something else that is not in keeping with the theme then start a new paragraph.’

SKW: Note that there are two themes or points in the one paragraph in contrast to the practice suggested: 1. Keep your paragraphs to one theme. 2. Arrange paragraphs logically.

These are distinct ideas, each worth a separate paragraph. Whether the reader realizes it consciously or not, unconsciously the mind will do a halt, not really understanding the point because there are two points.

Gary: ‘Chopping and changing subjects within paragraphs makes your thoughts look jumbled. Do this and you will also lose readers. They will think they are playing a game of mental “snakes and ladders.”‘

SKW: “snakes and ladders” maybe does not add either clarity or amplification of meaning, key functions of using metaphors. Maybe the metaphor does help as a memory device since it is a bit jarring?

There are a few other things in the article I could question a bit, but these are either picky or refinements, and maybe contrary to the author’s intentions.

The point might be to always make clear your intentions when speaking as author.

The second point is, write clearly, as we both emphasize.

The third point is to make clear when you are addressing the reader and his or her needs directly.

Does a metaphor help you the writer express yourself? Or, are you using a writing device to help the reader be clear, and does it work?

My conclusion from this whole thread is to make up a series of points about article writing.

For instance, I don’t agree with Dr. Wallin in this statement: ‘Dr. Wallin said: ‚¬“Dense writing ‚¬€ no matter how important or compelling, does not get read.‚¬

I don’t agree with her style. As a trained psychologist myself we are usually trained not to make super authoritative statements, as if they are absolute fact.

I would want a definition of ‘dense writing,’ and the scientific surveys that show what articles get read and why they get read. I don’t appreciate people asserting they are authorities and then making absolute statements.

But maybe in her interview or writing she does attempt to objectively support her absolute statement?

However, to better relate and be accepted by readers, I suggest humility instead of acting authoritive and absolute.

That may be for TV, but is it effective for informational article writing?

So my list of points as to what makes an effective article would include her point but other points as well, as in this thread.

Rather than act like there is one truth, one absolute point to make, offer several, maybe give the pros and cons, and then people can choose what to work with, or not work with.

Virtual Democracy, as here in this discussion, means to me that there are no absolute authorities anymore. Information and points of view are available to all now at the click of a link.

We can each make up our own minds on issues, if we so choose.

We are not looking for ‘right.’ We are looking for ‘real.’

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 4:09 AM

[Reply]

17
Darlene Wall writes:

Thank you Strephon for comment 14 and Gary Simpson for comment 15.

I clicked the submit button in comment 13 before adding: “Why buy the cow when the milk is free?”

And that is why article writers must perform the dance: Not too little and not too much.

The reader must be enticed to get more of that good stuff from YOU!

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 8:09 AM

[Reply]

18
Ed Howes writes:

While I was scratching my head wondering what the definition of dense was, the tips on writing less densely cleared it up for me. Lnace has made his point many times about attention spans and reading skill on the decline and it is an accurate observation, which may be turning around because of the internet.

All of us who grow up with TV have had our attention constantly interrupted for commercials. Apparently this transfers to thought processes as well. My dad did not grow up with TV, but it has taken its toll on him as well. He will never watch a movie and prefers half hour programs to one hour. The TV influence is undeniable. In addition, only the news magazines and the special interest cable/satellite programming offer much food for thought. I believe this too is intentional programming. TV is to be a refuge from thinking – our daily R and R. As we relax into a very open and receptive, non threatened mindset, they can stream their buying messages and propaganda directly into our subconsciousness until we begin thinking these ideas belong to us and we reasoned them out.

Back in the mid seventies I read an excellent book called “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television” By Gerry Mander. I probably should read it again now some 30 years have passed and if Lance has not yet read it, I think it will explain his complaint, along with the fact that primary and secondary education has become less effective with every passing decade. The quality seems inverse to the cost.

While I do not read much challenging literature on line, I find I do enjoy the writers with such vocabulary, they have me looking up definitions or guessing by context. I enjoy reading them on occasion but would not want a steady diet.

Day before yesterday, I did an EzineArticles home page view after checking stats. I ran across a one word title I could not believe had not been used. “Imagine” The article was by C.V. Harris and I considered it a delightful example of conversational monologue. Then I read four more and commented on all. I was delighted. Because this does not happen every day and I spend a lot of time reading on line, I have a special appreciation of compelling styles, sparse or dense, but it is a sure bet I am no typical reader and I’m thinking I’d like to read a good book for a few days.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 1:29 PM

[Reply]

19
Lance Winslow writes:

Ed, I will look up the “four arguments against TV” and I must say I was somewhat intrigued by the “unibombers” writings, although deplore his tactics and criminality. Another interesting book, I read was “Data Smog” which talks to the abundance of meaningless, tright and filler in electronic news and the Internet.

Today we see an IBM article in the news and folks trying to determine if the “Internet is Addicting.” Sure it is or can by, just like the Boob Tube, video games or the new World of VR, which most likely as it becomes more real will replace all the illegal recreational drugs no doubt.

China wishes to prevent certain news, views and content into their nation over the Internet and even is worried that the Internet will circumvent their control, productivity of the work force, bring ideas counter productive to their form of government and some of their excuses or reasoning of course for this censorship is indeed as they say; “the addictive nature of the Internet”.

One thing in this debate I find of interest is what if everyone used the Internet to seek information, knowledge and discovery? Then so what if it is addictive or people spend too much time online. It could very well have the reverse affect if all the writers in places like this uplifted the content, perhaps a equilibrium of density in the articles and stronger content to propel thought and information? Then the Internet would indeed bring the bar up a notch rather than down two. Because in the end I really do not care what Angela Jolie ate for breakfast this morning.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 3:15 PM

[Reply]

20
Ed Howes writes:

Lance,

A friend recommended Ted’s manifesto to me last year and I also found it very interesting. I am actually a bit surprised there were not a significant number of copy cats, though I suspect if there were, the news would be suppressed.

China is fighting a losing battle. Too many of their citizens are educated in foreign countries, then return home to tell friends and family what is being kept from them, and sometimes how they might get access if they want it. Based upon what I observe in the U.S. I can’t say this new access to information the internet provides is either revolutionary or counter revolutionary in the classical sense of uprising and overthrow of authority, legitimate or otherwise.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 3:29 PM

[Reply]

21
Ed Howes writes:

Help!

I have done two author searches here at EzineArticles for Ben Settle and get zero results. Am I doing something wrong or is he publishing under another name?

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 4:08 PM

[Reply]

22
Gary Simpson writes:

Thank you Strephon and Darlene for your compliments.

Ed, I must admit that I baulked at the word dense too.

It could mean “overly technical” or it could mean “thick.”

The problem, as I see it, is all the advice that we are being bombarded with concerning writing for an audience versus writing to have our keywords found – and there is the dilemma.

If you write a wonderful article devoid of targetted keywords then the robots and spiders do not locate them and NOBODY gets to read it – no matter how good it is.

Then, if you liberally sprinkle keywords and phrases throughout the text the readers will lose out because the natural “writing style” has been diluted by virtue of having to meet a FORMULA.

To me, that is the dilemma.

Was that too dense?

Gary

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 4:30 PM

[Reply]

23
Ed Howes writes:

Hey,

I found Ben by going to expert authors. The one, two and three sentence paragraphs do not work well for me because I am using a screen reader and this forces me to scroll from paragraph to paragraph frequently. I suppose I could paste it into a text document, delete the spaces and have my screen reader read straight through, if I was interested enough in the subject itself. But I agree with Edward, Ben’s articles are very good illustrations of undense writing and very educational.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 4:42 PM

[Reply]

24
Lance Winslow writes:

A comment perhaps of interest to this conversation and the density, thickness, technicality of the articles we write, just a comment. Here is a (rough draft) of an Introduction on an ebook I am Writing;

Introduction
Think on It

Have you noticed that more and more people have stopped thinking? Its as if they have surrendered their minds to the mass media hysteria and Television Set. But why has this happened. It is truly amazing how many folks simply repeat the words and comments from the Television News with really now personal views of their own. Well of course they will tell us that these are their personal views, but really they are only adopted from what was on the Television.

Worse off is the fact that the Television News is getting more and more shallow each year and the news segments are just 30-second to one minute sound bytes. Apparently this is to allow for more Television Commercials and allow for maximum viewer ship without over taxing anyone’s brain. It is as if the attention span of the average human has gone from 30 minutes to 15 minutes to 7 minutes and now to 4-minutes. After all 4-minutes is all there is between commercials now.

In fact you have probably noticed that the news commentators barely let the interviewees talk and cut them off mid sentence and go to a ‚¬“hard commercial break‚¬ with less than a few pages of text spoken during the entire coverage of a given event. People are now told what to think, what to say and how to act and therefore they no longer need their brains and thus the old saying; ‚¬“Use it or lose it!‚¬

It should be obvious that it is indeed time to wake up the masses and teach them to think again, before it is too late. We will be discussing original thought or the lack of and how our society is changing in the present period. We will consider the unfortunate potential eventualities that these situations are leading us too and perhaps solutions to consider. We will also put forth some original ideas and alternative viewpoints to think on.

I appreciate you purchasing this book and hope you will be thinking while reading. If you have any comments, questions, concerns, experiences or case studies that you might like to share with us for the next edition please feel free to email those. Thanks again.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 4:53 PM

[Reply]

25

Guys,

I see we have a search problem with our direct database query via the left nav search box. A trouble ticket has been opened up internally to resolve…

For now, you can find Ben Settle via the top Google search box for directly via this URL:
http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Ben_Settle

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 6:03 PM

[Reply]

26
Darlene Wall writes:

Dear Lance,

You are making my mind whirl with your questions! Lovin’ it.

I only had one year of university and one year of community college. I’m saying that because I was never taught how to think for myself, be it school or home. Born 1960, a child of a child born during the depression. This might explain some of this response?

Could you imagine if people did think for themselves? You would be messing with a basic economic structure, that is, having the working class carry the load of performing the menial jobs that help keep the upper percentile rich. Plus, they pay the most taxes, or does it just feel that way?

‚¬“20 years of schoolin and they put you on the day shift. Look out kid, they keep it well hid.‚¬ (Bob Dylan)

Now take the ‚¬“kids‚¬ of this generation (over generalization). They have been given attitudes that were honed by their parents within our culture. The ‚¬“I want them to have what we never did‚¬ thing. The attitude of expectation. Buy now, pay later. Buy new, not used. Instant gratification. We’re all becoming guilty of it.

‚¬“They‚¬ say that this will be a generation that may not be as well off as the ones before. Hmmm! seems contrary to the above, until the bills come in, I guess.

With all this talk in the media about the end of the world, in one form or another, is it any wonder we want to get our kicks before the whole $#!?-house comes down. Calgon take me away!

Regarding TV: Most of the news is incomplete. I no longer have an opinion based on TV news, because I know I haven’t got the facts. I do not usually go looking for the detailed truth, however, because it’s too depressing. That’s probably why most folks don’t want the heavy facts.

If I knew the North Korean President was a long time drunk, who has damaged the reasoning part of his brain, AND now has control of a nuclear weapon, will that help me have a relaxed evening at home? Will that help me get ready for the next morning at the plant? Doubt it.

This could be one reason why people like the fluff on TV, news or otherwise. TV is a pacifier, the drug, so to speak. Personally, I find most of it annoying.

Are these some of the reasons we don’t want to think too much and have such a short attention span?

This is a huge topic. Sounds like a book is the way to go. Very interesting subject.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 7:44 PM

[Reply]

27
Edward Weiss writes:

Why do you think hardly anyone watches news that actually IS news? It’s too “dense” for most people.

Believe me, if people actually tuned in to the horrors that happen everyday on this planet, the news would run 24/7. Really.

But you’re right. It’s too much for most people, myself included.

It’s just too bad we don’t get “good” soundbites instead of planted PR stories. But I think I’m getting off topic here.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 8:42 PM

[Reply]

28
Ed Howes writes:

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. This philosophy was heavily promoted from the fifties on. It goes so deep psychologically we understand saving anything, especially dollars is pointless and foolish. Better to die owing a million dollars, which is official government policy the whole society is modeling. When fools have the power to prevent the future, what then matters, to any particular individual? I first became a father nearly 30 years ago and my father asked me if it was wise to bring a new life into this world. How much moreso today? We have all been manipulated by the fear mongers into doubting the future and presenting the world with the idea of helpless victimhood. Many there be who have profited mightiliy by bringing about this sorry state of affairs.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 9:03 PM

[Reply]

29
Darlene Wall writes:

A speaker on a radio talk show said the the world, as we know it, would not come to an end by nuclear annihilation or some other man-made disaster.

No,no! It’s gonna be a meteor that takes us out.

Did his statement give me just one more thing to worry about? Nope!

It actually freed me from my victim mentality; that we are at the whim of the war mongers feeding us high doses of doom and gloom.

Hey, I’d rather get taken out by good ol’ Mother Nature, something we can’t control, then through the stupidity of man, something we can control.

I guess I’m off the “dense conversation”. Sorry.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 12:20 AM

[Reply]

30
Elsa Schieder writes:

Don’t Keep It Simple, Stupid – We’re Not All Mental Vegetables

I heard of the KISS system long ago – keep it simple, stupid. That came to mind the other day when I read that complexity was the kiss of death on the web. People don’t want more than one idea per article ‚¬€ and that idea had better be nice and easy. People don’t want hard words ‚¬€ don’t use a long word if a short one will do.

I thought of Dead Poet’s Society, a brilliant film about a teacher who really reaches students. The message is the opposite. Use vivid language. Don’t always say sad. Say glum, morose, grief-stricken, sullen.

And I thought of my students. Many of them, college students, display mental rigidity ‚¬€ almost a rigor mortis of the brain when it comes to some ideas. All opinions are equal, they hold ‚¬€ and can’t recognize that KKK opinions might not have as much validity as opinions based on evidence that humans, whatever our race, are inherently equal (basic equality in intellectual and emotional range).

Evidence is irrelevant to most of my students. How can I bring up evidence when it comes to opinions? How can I possibly question that all opinions are equal? They look at me as if I were some alien monster.

But, I counter, their opinion means that the opinion that all opinions are not equal is just as valid as the opinion that all opinions are equal. (After all, all opinions are equal ‚¬€ even the opinion that they are not equal.) That’s a contradiction. Again, that’s irrelevant to most of them. Some faces turn blank and stony.

The wall.

For more on the inequality of opinions, read Stupid Opinion #2:
http://www.elsas-word-story-image-idea-music-emporium.com/the-idea-emporium-stupid-opinion-1.html

For another stupid opinion, read Stupid Opinion #1 (the stupid opinion that we are all where we are meant to me):

http://www.elsas-word-story-image-idea-music-emporium.com/the-idea-emporium-stupid-opinion-1.html

I said, don’t keep it simple.

But I am keeping it simple. And my point is equally simple: we need quality, we need works that challenge and stimulate ‚¬€ or we get mental couch potatoes.

Our brains, like our bodies, need to learn how to function well ‚¬€ or our thinking is as clumsy as the violin playing of someone taking their first lesson. Painful.

For stimulating thinking, try The Idea Emporium:

http://www.elsas-word-story-image-idea-music-emporium.com/the-idea-emporium-3.html

So I don’t know if quality triumphs every time. Lots of people like junk food. I do know that, with ideas as with food, in many ways, you very often are what you eat.

Many foods are linked with cancer. I wonder what poor thought patterns contribute to cancer of the thought processes.

Responses welcome.

Elsa

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 10:37 AM

[Reply]

31
Lance Winslow writes:

Darlene,

Perhaps if humankind would limit their infighting, chaos and controversy long enough to understand that we are all on this pale blue dot together and joined in a common cause of humanity, then all the other silly wars, sound and fury might appear rather trivial. To your point of density of article content; well indeed that radio host and your comment as it relates to articles may not be too far off the subject;

http://ezinearticles.com/?2006-Trends-in-Tracking-Meteorites-and-Asteroids&id=120121

http://ezinearticles.com/?Free-Energy-from-Space&id=27215

http://ezinearticles.com/?Planetary-Defense-System&id=126314

http://ezinearticles.com/?Disaster-Planning-for-Comet-Hitting-Earth&id=203487

In fact Ronald Reagan once made a statement about the incredible build up of war machines and the cold war and he said the it is too bad we cannot join together in a common cause with all nations to fight another force besides ourselves. Thus fighting a Climate Crisis, Near Earth Object (meteor, comet, giant asteroid) and defeating it, would unite the world and all nations you see?

Unfortunately, as much as human beings are a social creature they too are a war mongering lot and it is too bad we cannot take that negative energy and put it to a positive cause other than killing ones own species thru war, you know?

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 12:57 PM

[Reply]

32
Lance Winslow writes:

Elsa;

You make an excellent point about thinking and this is why I am so happy that Chris added the categories; ‚¬“Pure Opinion‚¬ and ‚¬“Future Concepts‚¬ as I enjoy writing in those and reading what other people are thinking and then attempt to ascertain in the ‚¬“Pure Opinion‚¬ Category why they think that, by trying to determine their selective reading material, place in life, experiences and etc. In the Future Concepts category folks who think outside of the box consider a future somewhat or even vastly different based on their knowledge of technology as it interacts with politics, society and culture.

The Philosophy section and the Humanities Categories of this site also have some excellent articles to read and I must say most of these categories I really enjoy writing in and hope it propels thought. I did enjoy reading some of your website and will have to go through the rest of it as well, you have some interesting comments and thoughts and it is good you have shared these thoughts with others to help them thru their rationalizing of their absolutes of perception. Indeed, it will be a fun thing to read over the weekend. Thank you for that.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 1:12 PM

[Reply]

33
Ed Howes writes:

Elsa,

Very good article and very stimulating style. You are talented and I want to read more of your stuff. I have some insight into this equality of opinion thing I’d like to share. Our subconscious is an idea repository with no filters except consciousness. The goal of corporate authority is to by pass consciousness and put folks to sleep for a lifetime to prevent any filtration of the messages they wish to fill our subconscious with. TV is the best tool ever invented for doing this as I mentioned on an earlier post, sort of.

The sleeping person, who has had their conscious filter disabled by the common sense of the lowest common denominator, has no idea they have had their subconscious programmed by repetition, which is why affirmation, visualization and chanting are such powerful reprogramming tools. That is, they do not know they can reprogram. They do not know they have been programmed by commercial interests and governments which benefit from ignorance on a massive scale, so they create it with education and entertainment and defining people as consumers, which the people accept as true, because of the unfiltered repetition of that idea. Once you explain to an unconscious person what has been done to them and how it continues, you can explain they have an option to reprogram, using the same method. This knowledge is liberating.

And what did you program in your article? The very message you found offensive, you drilled into me and anyone else who read it. But I defended myself because I know how. I considered that if I am here now because I am where I ought to be, I can be elsewhere in a few minutes or an hour if I so choose and if we were all taught to identify some safe refuge we could visit when our local conditions were less than safe, there would be a lot less slaughter in the world. But the message we get growing up is: “Every thing’s gonna be all right, rock a bye.” For all the warnings we receive in well intended advice and through observation, we are not warned to make a plan B ahead of time should we be threatened and in danger so we are quite prepared to be helpless victims.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 1:43 PM

[Reply]

34
Elsa Schieder writes:

Hi Lance,

Thanks for your comments. And I’m glad you’re enjoying my site.

I noticed your comments above. In fact, I was relieved when I got to them. Finally, I said to myself, someone who does not go along with all this – don’t ever make anyone think, don’t ever make anyone sweat mentally, don’t ever ask anything of anyone.

Of course that doesn’t mean that most readers want complex writing. But some of us do.

I have, by the way, by now written a piece on this issue of keep-it-simple. It’s pending review right now. I’ll try to remember to come back with the link when it’s up. In the meantime, the article title is:

Don’t Keep It Simple, Stupid – We’re Not All Mental Vegetables

It’s in one of your favorite categories – pure opinion.

****

By the way, another two categories I’d like to see are:

Creativity

and

Self-exploration

Creativity – right now it’s under self-improvement. But I don’t know a single creative person who does it for self-improvement. It’s like putting sports under self-improvement. It stuns me that Creativity doesn’t have as big a section as sports. Actually, I much prefer creativity.

As for self-exploration. Again, one can do things for self-improvement. But lots of us just like to do it. Wasn’t it Socrates who said that an unexplored life is not worth living. That’s not the same an an un-self-improved life.

****

I will tie this to the whole issue of complexity. Self-improvement – often that is made to seem very simple, tied to incredibly simple rules, though it is a complex field.

Self-exploration – it already sounds more complex than self-improvement.

The same goes for creativity. Putting it under self-improvement is like putting nuclear power under central heating. For me creativity is a massive vital part of our being.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for now.

****

And to go back to the initial impetus for all this – the finding that dense writing doesn’t get read. Dense used to mean stupid. Like, that person is really dense. Can’t anyone get something into his or her thick skull? It seems to have switched meaning.

Elsa

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 1:45 PM

[Reply]

35

Interesting paths this discussion has taken…

Let’s try to keep comments “on topic’ …

When I originally started this thread, I meant “DENSE” to mean thick or hard to read, but not “stupid” or “dumb”.

Most of the authors who write very densely usually do it because of their insecurities with wanting to be understood or their belief that they must qualify every statement they make to be comprehensive enough to be considered a skilled professional.

Obviously this creates tension in the writer because article marketing does not lend itself to comprehensiveness and the preferred format for an article is closer to a ‘sliver’ of expertise rather than a volume of content.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 1:55 PM

[Reply]

36
Ed Howes writes:

Eeek!

There are conscious observers among us.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 2:00 PM

[Reply]

37
Edward Weiss writes:

Elsa, there are many places to go (online and offline) for what you’ve described in your posts.

EA is, for the most part, where online entrepreneurs go to increase their web traffic via article marketing.

Two different things entirely.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 2:04 PM

[Reply]

38
Lance Winslow writes:

Darlene,

You made an interesting comment in post #26. In that you stated that ‚¬“I was never taught how to think‚¬ and my thoughts are that everyone can think and yes chances are you were not taught to think. Pretty silly considering that the Brain is the most important part of the human body, this is why it is encased completely in a hard shell to protect it.

Why don’t we teach humans to think; is just that sometimes the social conditioning and education systems teaches us not to think or maybe a mild sense of brain washing in a more ‚¬“memorization strategy‚¬ and so maybe it is better to teach kids, teens and adults to be self-reliant and solve problems and be creative, rather than simply answering multiple choice answers?

You ask; ‚¬“Could you imagine if people did think for themselves?‚¬

Indeed, I have imagined this and believe that if people would think more, they may actually be less likely to accept linear decisions from linear thinking politicians stuck in a blob of bureaucracy, which stifles innovation and the forward progression of the species. You ask if that would mess up the basic economic structure; assuming you mean the 2.2 kids, white picket fence, BMW, mini-van, college degree, job, credit card debt and consumerism.

Yes, it might change things a bit. But in the end we might be better off for it. You see even if you teach humans to think they still have innate characteristics, desires, needs and they will still follow those needs and use that unit of trade we call a dollar to partake in those things entrepreneurs, corporations and small business provide for those desires. That would not change much.

Humans are predictable in their innate desires and needs. Thus as long as they have needs they would perform jobs in order to get there. For instance plant the wheat, harvest the wheat, bake the bread and eat it and they would much rather do that then wait in bread lines. So, would it really change the economic structure?

You have also made a statement about the Upper % Rich. Those who perform and provide will always receive the flow of money, because they are standing in the flow. If you give money to the poor, middle or upper, that flow will reach them in exactly 1-3 transactions of said money. Thus anytime you increase flow or change it those who understand the game will simply divert the flow thru several means or reposition them selves in the new flow. Free-markets work these things out, change does in fact create new rich, but generally it is not as significant as you might think.

The taxation dilemma you mention is of interest in that those you label as rich, pay a higher percentage of taxes, but indeed have more incentives to divert that flow to save taxes into areas, which will help our economy and although the tax codes in lets say the US need a total overhaul, the concept is not so bad. For if I buy a new SUV, aircraft or piece of equipment for business and save on taxes in doing so more people are employed with manufacturing jobs to build it, who also pay taxes and thus the treasury and the middle move with an upward bias provided jobs and money supply is not heading for foreign shores (another topic indeed). There is a great ‚¬“Economics‚¬ category on this website, worthy of mention I might add.

Your comment about ‚¬“Degrees‚¬ and College is relevant as only 20% of those with college degrees are in the same profession as their degree was in. In fact, there are issues as everyone stays in their jobs only 2.3 years now and certainly not the same as your folks who most likely were able to retire on the golf course with a pension from the company they worked for the whole time, if they choose too. Things are changing, people are living longer and the dynamics of the game are much different today. And perhaps this is a comment towards the reason we need to teach people to think?

The Baby Boomers and the X’ers are both guilt of the problems you state, as the average US Citizen owes 150% of their annual income in short term debt and they are experiencing the opposite affect of compound interest that they might have gotten with long-term savings, mutual funds, stocks or other investments. Instead of mom putting $3,000 into an annuity account at birth, she goes out and spends $3,000 on cute clothes, strollers and baby stuff by credit card. Ouch! America is not saving and I am as much alarmed as you are.

Your comment on the mass media hysteria is of interest and yes, every era has its demons; Cold War (nuclear annihilation), Y2K, Global Warming, AIDS, Bird Flu, Radical Fundamental International Terrorists, Meteor Hitting the Earth, etc. In fact, it use to be something new every 10-years and now they just barrage the populous randomly between the major crisis every 5-years. FEAR!!! I too have written on this extensively.

In fact when you mention FEAR you must also realize that FEAR depletes vitamins and such stress on the body inhibits your immune system and brains functioning capacity. Now then some people thrive on fear, adrenalin junkies for instance and the more fear the better their brains function to a point. Others simply get brain dead and exhibit fight or flight sequence often due to the perception of helplessness presented, they retreat like a hermit crab.

Why do people have less attention spans? Well many reasons I suppose for instance they do not have to think, as their government and politicians promise to do all the thinking for them, and if they simply obey all the rules, everything will be fine, or so they are told. Domesticated dogs are not even 2/3 as smart as wild dogs or wolves, in fact the brains of our domesticated animals has even shrunk over time now. Ouch!

Of course there are all sorts of medical white papers on shrinking attention spans with all sorts of theories from video game visual stimulus at young ages before the brain is formed to ADHD, which are over prescribed to sell more drugs and mellow out misbehaved children so it is easier to baby sit them at school. Ouch! The number of theories from diet, education, prenatal care, environmental toxins, etc are numerous and it might just be a multiplicity affect and perhaps even an evolving brain, able to take in much more information.

Some say the information over load is indeed the main cause. Like trying to drive down a road with signs everywhere, you have to be looking around, watching traffic and driving the car. If you fail you crash into something, thus this is an affect of modern society, massive information flows and such. One famous person said that there is more information in one issue of the NYT than the total information available than in a life time for someone in the sixteenth century.

Thus someone could point out that;

‚¬“The short attention span is mandatory to prevent insanity?‚¬ Lance 06′

And since I just did just point this out, it will be my Lance quote for the day? You have stated; That this is a huge topic. Indeed it is and having written hundreds of articles on the subject, I completely concur.

Lance

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 2:23 PM

[Reply]

39
Elsa Schieder writes:

Hi, Chris,

From my memory of the initial piece, it included stuff on using simple words, nothing fancy.

And while I have been writing on the importance of being able to do complex thinking, I have myself, over the years – without wanting to – simplified the vocabulary I use.

I know that I have a much larger passive vocabulary (everything I understand) than active one (words I use). The larger one – I have learned that I risk not being undetstood. So without wanting to, I’ve flattened my language to make it more easy for everyone.

I read the more complex stuff. But many of my students – college level – have a hard time with it, and want it all made simple. I remember so many words I needed to learn as my education was advancing. Many don’t see the point.

What will English be like in another generation? Will the language we know now, those of us with extensive vocabularies, be as strange as Elizabethan English?

I have a few friends who use their rich vocabularies – and it sounds strange to my ears. It also makes me pause. What is being lost with all this simplificiation?

****

I know the greater complexity still exists.

My question: are more people learning to “smarten up” or to
“dumb down”?

Elsa

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 2:24 PM

[Reply]

40
Darlene Wall writes:

Lance and Elsa,

Very interesting. I will check out more of your info in the appropriate articles area. I realize I have gone off topic here. Hey, I’m brand new. I’m learning, and happily so.

Thanks all!

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 2:44 PM

[Reply]

41
Ed Howes writes:

Back to topic,

Elsa’s linked article is actually a fair example of non dense writing, with short, single thought paragraphs. It just so happened her content was provocative as this thread shows, an unfortunate consequense of group education. People who read her articles will see they are not simple but are not dense either. Hence, our off topic drift might get more folks to see her example of non dense writing because they are also interested in her content. At least Lance and I are going back for more examples and all of us are learning something useful, on topic and off. I love it!

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 2:48 PM

[Reply]

42
Lance Winslow writes:

Elsa,

It appears there are two different types of ‚¬“Dense‚¬ definitions being used in this thread one is the use of ‚¬“bigger words‚¬ thus thrust the reading level too high. Another is ‚¬“Dense‚¬ that is a heavy topic such as an essay might be. Nevertheless, I tend to agree with your comments that not everyone is a ‚¬“Big Dummy‚¬ out there and that there are many of us who like the Denser Articles.

One author here, who has the same last name as me; Mary Anne Winslow, I think from England somewhere has posted 300 plus articles, which are essay type articles which are dense, but I enjoy reading those a lot and learn something new with every one of them. I certainly do not want those to go away or other authors writing more trite articles with little information or simply do not provide any new insight or thought.

I agree with you that most readers may not want more complex writing and I am certainly with you on the specific point that some of us do indeed like the more complex stuff. And to that point I like your title;

‚¬“Don’t Keep it Simple, Stupid ‚¬€ We’re Not All Mental Vegetables‚¬

And I think this website has places for more Dense Articles and enough specific categories for many of those types of articles. So, if a reader likes the more dense articles, then they can peruse for hours here. Maybe this is a lead-in for the future of this site to include more; Essays, white papers and heavy reading.

You idea of a Self-Exploration Category is interesting. Almost like an introspective type of philosophy. Philosophy is in the ‚¬“Arts and Entertainment Section‚¬ now. This is an interesting thought. I also believe that heavy reading articles, white papers and essays can indeed be excellent tools for ‚¬“article marketing‚¬ as most all the Fortune 500 Technology type companies market by this method. So, it would be silly for authors to completely shy away from Dense articles, as it does have its purpose, its readers and higher-level clientele as well.

In fact I have really enjoyed many of the dense articles in sections such as; Legal-Patents, Business-Change Management, Business-Branding, Education-Psychology and many other categories too. I also agree the simplicity creates complexity and Complexity is always in search of simplicity. And during this process often the articles will become dense or easy reading. But I think it is all good and there is ample audience for both.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 3:07 PM

[Reply]

43
Strephon writes:

I don’t see the topic of discussion we started with in the last several comments. I’m confused.

Is the point just to go on about society in general?

When I have been on panel discussions there has always been a moderator who brings people on track.

Chris started the theme but doesn’t seem to moderate, to re-say points and get us to continue on point.

So for me the last responses have been dense, in the sense of being not conceptually clear and focused as an ongoing thread.

For me I use examples right from what is happening.

I skimmed the writing because I thought there might be focused, useful stuff there, but it has been all over the place in my opinion.

I ‘signed on’ to this topic thread for that topic only. Why should I have to read a bunch of other stuff only dimly related, if at all?

Are there different communication rules of engagement for articles as different from comments in a forum?

This is feedback, not criticism. I don’t make the rules or guidelines, but as a psychologist I have been trained in communication models and used them with people.

That’s where I am coming from here.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 3:15 PM

[Reply]

44
Ed Howes writes:

Lance,

You are missing Chris’ point entirely. Dense as in run – on sentences. Dense as in long paragraphs with multiple ideas, difficult for readers to follow. The kind of stuff most of us do when we first start writing. All bad form. :-)

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 3:18 PM

[Reply]

45
Ed Howes writes:

Strephon,

No rule free for all here, now. A good example of what Lance says about strictly linear thinking as opposed to non linear. Lance is often so busy writing and posting he misses comments posted between his, I think. I might be wrong. It is not always like this on the EzineArticles blog. Just enough to keep it interesting. :-)

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 3:27 PM

[Reply]

46
Lance Winslow writes:

Edward,

You make an interesting point as you bring everyone back to reality and state;

‚¬“EA is, for the most part, where online entrepreneurs go to increase their web traffic via article marketing. Two different things entirely.‚¬

Now while that is indeed true, online article authors are looking for targeted traffic to increase the visitations to their websites and if their target market, customer or potential clientele is a more robust thinking human, for whatever their purpose is; then in fact a more dense article, higher reading level and or technical nature might be favored. If the reader is not such, they will most likely click out on a Adsense Ad or click the category buttons at the top and read some articles that are more to their liking?

So, yes EzineArticles is for the most part where online entrepreneurs go to increase web traffic, and yet as it evolves new strategies are taking hold in order to accomplish that goal. An article of more density perhaps attracts the less dense humans to seek more wisdom, knowledge, insight, information, technical details, complex products or more intellectual services such as consulting specialists. Just a thought on your comment, as I agree with your premise, with a caveat of recent noticeable evolutionary niche strategies.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 3:36 PM

[Reply]

47
Lance Winslow writes:

Ed,

You have stated; “You are missing Chris’ point entirely. Dense as in run – on sentences. Dense as in long paragraphs with multiple ideas, difficult for readers to follow. The kind of stuff most of us do when we first start writing. All bad form.”

Maybe I have missed that point, but if you follow the total thread and listen to the audio;

“‚¬“The 7 Biggest Mistakes That Professionals Make When Writing For The Web.‚¬ By Dr. Pauline Wallin there are indeed 7-points to the discussion. Additionally, I have not addressed Chris once in this thread. I am sure his points that you state are notable. Run on sentences and multiple points in one paragraph are problematic and will turn off the reader, Yes, I concur with that, who wouldn’t?

Therefore I wish to address all the other points of contention on the subject of “Density” in fact let us address all the points entirely including all the definitions of dense-ness so that we can think on the concept of online article writing in new ways and get to the break thrus needed for the forward progression of this online venue.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 3:41 PM

[Reply]

48
Lance Winslow writes:

Strephon,

Your point about panels and committees is interesting as this is not those venues and perhaps your Professional Psychologist Training has brainwashed you into a particular line of thinking and flow of thought. Yet I would warn one against that ‚¬“Box‚¬ or blob of bureaucracy in online blogging for the sake of discussion, insight and innovation.

If you believe that society in general is better off with more rules, regulations, laws and bureaucracy then perhaps you liked the movie Gattica or 1984 and wish to live with the Borg and produce a BeeHive of humanity here? Because the way I see it there is nothing wrong with a society that thinks outside the box or opens a wider discussion.

If one cannot see the connections between Density of Article Writing and the correlation of the mass media, then they are not looking at the whole picture but rather the flickering flame shadow on a wall within a cave. Come outside and feel the fresh air my friend. Responding to a person with a good point that may be slightly off track or on the main point is hardly a problem with society or the two people communicating.

You might say; ‚¬“Yes but do that on your own time‚¬ and I would say to you, we certainly could hold our own discussion by email on these various sub-topics, but then the rest of those reading this would not get the value of thought and remain with the linear thought proposed. Looking at things from a single perspective or failing in addressing root causes of situation which has become the main topic is frightful indeed.

Your vast experience on panel discussions is great for your resume, but inconsequential and irrelevant to blog/forum discussions in many regards. This thread will get back to the subject at hand, if you do not wish to read additional sub-topics skip them. So when you state;

‚¬“So for me the last responses have been dense, in the sense of being not conceptually clear and focused as an ongoing thread.‚¬

Actually, these postings are focused on the on-going thread rather than the original topic specifics. They are conceptually about as clear as they can get, they are all sub-topics and related to the main point as pieces of the puzzle as to why things are the way they are in online article author density.

I would submit to you, that if you look at the whole picture that even your opinions might change to a more pragmatic approach to this issue, rather than your desire to have a cut and dry, exactness that you feel necessary to converse. Perhaps this might give you the upper hand in self-confidence to position yourself as an expert ‚¬“trained professional psychologist‚¬, but in the end who would that serve?

Further your posting about getting off topic, is indeed off topic in its self because, Chris already made that statement above, so it no longer needs to be stated. Plus he made that statement to get back on-topic while I was formulating my post and they crossed in the mail. So, if you ask others to stay on topic and then post a comment about being off topic, then all you are doing is making friends with Chris, who does not need anymore friends, he has some 40,000 authors here who are his friends. So in essence you are siding with the moderator to elevate self, this is like a third grader becoming the teachers pet, and is that really relevant to online article density? Well, is it?

You have stated; ‚¬“This is feedback, not criticism. I don’t make the rules or guidelines, but as a psychologist I have been trained in communication models and used them with people.‚¬

Absolutely incorrect, as your feedback is criticism, it was meant as criticism and that is what it is. Fine, I can take criticism; the question is can a professionally trained psychologist take criticism in online communication, without belittling those who wish to have a voice on a subject they are interested in? Since you are trained in communication then you know that a person disrespected wants revenge and that there will be reciprocal responses to those who belittle others, as you have done here.

Why not look in your own mirror and at your own rear in the ‚¬“chamber of mirrors‚¬ and stick to the subject instead of mirroring the moderator to elevate self while condemning others with criticism, while hiding behind a piece of paper proving linear thought has been achieved? Just thinking out loud.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 4:15 PM

[Reply]

49
Ed Howes writes:

“What’s your best advice about how to reduce the eye strain for those who read your articles?” Chris Knight asks at the end of his post. We are all awaiting Lance’s response to this question with baited breath.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 4:21 PM

[Reply]

50
Lance Winslow writes:

Ed,

‚¬“What’s your best advice about how to reduce the eye strain for those who read your articles?‚¬

My thoughts are similar to another author’s comments in this thread; “White Space is Your Friend” and I have always joked about a good use of white space by use of bullets, numbering and such.

Indeed, I have been careful to break my paragraphs up every 3-7 sentences. Otherwise the reader simply looks at it and thinks to themselves, “I am not going to read all that” and clicks out.

The author then loses. I have found that the shorter articles tend to get the reader to read more and keeps them from having to scroll down the page to finish the article.

But if the good use of white space rule is conserved then they will read what is there, and if and only if your writing is interesting or the topic is to the point (providing you accurately key-worded it to get them there) then they will scroll down and finish even a longer article of 500-1200 words.

These are my thoughts on that topic.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 4:40 PM

[Reply]

51
Gary Simpson writes:

I wonder if any of you would like to SCROLL slowly down this thread and get a “visual” of the various comments. Don’t read – just look.

Which ones are appealing? Which ones are NOT appealing.

I believe that the human brain has an aversion to paragraphs that are over 5 or 6 lines long.

Breaking the writing up into short punchy paragraphs overcomes the FIRST barrier. THEN – you have to write something interesting.

Why do so many people have to write MASSIVE paragraphs? Are some of you lawyers?

HUGE paragraphs have less chance of being read. They will be skimmed at best by most people.

Agree or disagree?

Gary

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 7:38 PM

[Reply]

52
Edward Weiss writes:

I agree with you completely Gary. But those who want to show us how brilliant they are may not. :)

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 7:42 PM

[Reply]

53
Lance Winslow writes:

I agree with Gary’s point and it is well taken.

I would also have another thought or personal note and that would be that articles that look like a “Long Sales Letter” no longer appeal to me and I no longer read stuff, usually that is formatted like a long sales letter.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 7:43 PM

[Reply]

54

READ THIS BEFORE POSTING FURTHER PLEASE.
READ THIS BEFORE POSTING FURTHER PLEASE.

There are now 49 comments on this blog entry.

Everyone who participated by leaving a comment receives an automatic email notification upon each comment.

That means each person who posts as the thread gets larger should feel a higher personal responsibility to add significant value to the conversation — and that conversation needs to stay ‘on point’.

It would be helpful if the point that each person wants to share could be digested in very small nuggets.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 7:43 PM

[Reply]

55
Strephon writes:

If I can use a metaphor from actual experience in martial arts:

At age 72 I still do full speed live sword practice. Every time I go into kata, solo practice, at speed I am accutely aware that one lapse of focus on my part means I can cut into my other hand, leg, whatever is in the way of a wayward sword.

Do I have your attention?

The general principle I get from this practice is that to do the task in the most effective way you must have focus and oneness of being and oneness of purpose.

If you don’t your are practicing loss in life.

Without focus you lose your purpose for the task, you lose your energy, you lose others.

A point of martial arts practice is to ground awareness in material reality.

In article writing to convey a point, if your focus is not greater than the potential reader, then how are you going to earn the reader’s respect?

Why not be an example of the values you are committed to practicing, whether all that good at it or not compared to others?

Just as in live sword practice, where one motion follows another, so in placing each word why not be aware of how one word follows another?

The meta level is in my estimation being aware of how you are being aware.

Until you develop meta-awareness your ideas and your issues are like straw men, distractions from inner stillness and being.

Sorry! I laugh a bit! Got carried away with spiritual meaning!

There is no such thing, of course . . .

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 8:04 PM

[Reply]

56
Edward Weiss writes:

Strephon, you had me at martial arts but lost me around paragraph 7. :)

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 8:11 PM

[Reply]

57
Ed Howes writes:

560 net views indicates a strong interest in the subject and I found a lot of bonus value in this thread, thank you. The value of a post is a very subjective matter. I can recall when a blog post at EzineArticles got a half dozen comments typically. Maybe we can get back to the good old days.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 8:21 PM

[Reply]

58
Lance Winslow writes:

Strephon,

I really enjoyed your “Full Speed Sword” analogy and after going thru your entire website (quite impressive) I see where you are coming from.

It makes sense to think of article writing in terms of full-speed sword analogies and that really is on topic, because each motion, leads to the next and then the final thrust would be the reader “clicking the link” to you byline.

I can see how you have taken your martial arts mastery and are able to use that in your article and book writing to insure flow of information and thought conveyance to the reader. Great Stuff. Some day perhaps more of us might be able to master your skills. Your articles speak for themselves to your ability to provide the proper density without destroying the balance between yourself and your reader, as you are one with the words you have submitted.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 8:28 PM

[Reply]

59

Ed,

This thread is now the 3rd in the list of:

* 10 Most Commented Posts:
o Article Submission-Management Beta – 77 comments
o Landing Page Quality Scoring – 63 comments
o Dense Writing Does Not Get Read – 55 comments
o Professional Writers vs. Article Writing and Marketing – 49 comments
o New Home Page Design, 79 New Categories! – 41 comments
o Article Comments Kick – 36 comments
o Article Marketing Benefits Changes – 35 comments
o Puggle Article Dog – 33 comments
o EzineArticles – Born in November – 33 comments
o Article Title Mis-Spellings – 32 comments

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 8:29 PM

[Reply]

60
Ed Howes writes:

:-) Thanks Chris,

I think you have my number. And where does this post stand in top ten view counts? No rest for the weary. :-0

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 8:38 PM

[Reply]

61
Edward Weiss writes:

Getting back to topic with the question originally put forth here:

“How can you make your articles more fun to read and with less eye strain for your reader?”…

Most of my articles are no longer than 350 words. The paragraphs are broken up and I try to focus on the point or benefit I conveyed in the headline of the article. I give examples. People love examples.

I tell them how I solved a particular problem. They also love this. I don’t try to solve the world’s problems in 350 words. Instead, I try to shine light on one specific thing.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 8:47 PM

[Reply]

62
Lance Winslow writes:

Edward,

I think I am aligning myself with your way of thinking on the word counts of 350. I think that it is a good number to try to shoot for. Of course if your article does get over 400 or closer to 300, well that is also okay.

I do believe that when a reader glances at that, they are more apt to read an article that length. And commit themselves to reading thru it. Indeed, as long as you do like you said; Examples, solutions, stories, analogies along with tid-bits of important stuff, they will continue reading.

Once they start with an example they will continue to read it, thus you have won the reader and have a better chance to increase click-thru rates. Would you say that an article of 350 words should have five to seven paragraphs? Would you think that breaking it up with bullets of three points of contention or a sub-heading might be smart too?

Your strategy must be working Edward, as you keep writing articles and people keep reading them and clicking away to your site?

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 8:56 PM

[Reply]

63
Edward Weiss writes:

Lance, my articles are around 350 words because that’s pretty much what it takes me to get my point across and make it interesting for the reader (hopefully.)

But, I will read articles of 500-1000 words or more IF they are interesting to me. “Me” being the operative word here. What’s interesting to me may not be to someone else. There’s the rub.

Fortunately, I know who my audience is. I think I know what they want to read and I try to give them what they want. In return, I’m rewarded with what I guess you could call a fan base…loyal readers who want what I have to offer. This is what most writers want.

I’m sure you have your “base” of readers as well.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 9:55 PM

[Reply]

64
Gary Simpson writes:

Golly gosh,

Has anybody noticed how the paragraphs have suddenly become shorter and more pleasing to the eye since my comment at #51?

I actually read them all because they were not so damned confronting.

Folks if you want other people to read what you have written then make it EASY for their eyes to follow. Then, just then, you might get to second base.

I think we are onto something here.

Gary

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 10:12 PM

[Reply]

65
Lance Winslow writes:

Indeed, I too would read an article of 500-1000 words if the topic was of interest to me. And with that said if the targeted market was really interested then they might commit to reading the article, but the author must be very good to keep their interest high, or they might leave. So it is a much safer bet to stick to the 300-450 word counts if possible.

Now then if the reader is truly interested in the subject matter then would they stay if it were as hard to read as a Bible Verse, Shakespeare or Flowery Letters of our Founding Fathers, but then again even a dedicated reader of the subject matter might still choose to leave if the density was wrong; Run-ons, Virginia Wolf syndrome, too many complex words, too many unfamiliar buzz words, too high a vocabulary or a borderline schizofrenic (like the Hobbit does but within the paragraph) or even an emulator author trying to mimmick the Sci Fi Fantasy writing of lets say C.S Lewis or the author of Dune, JRR Tolkien or others.

Fact is that will not work in online article writing and look at the one sentence run-on of that last paragraph I wrote. Well that does not work well, even if the reader is interested in discussing online article author density strategies. Giving the reader/customer what they want is smart. The questions I am now wondering are;

1.) What does the reader really want?

2.) Is the reader who wants less density, really your customer?

3.) If there are more than one type of reader, should you write an article for each?

4.) Has any one ever done a voluntary survey of EzineArticle readers? If so, would only those who prefer low density articles partake in the actual survey, as high density readers are not interested?

And the reason I mention this is after re-reading this entire thread everyone here is stating they do read higher density articles, that is to say using the dense definition as higher grade level reading, longer articles and more guts to the actual content?

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 10:18 PM

[Reply]

66
Lance Winslow writes:

Actually Gary,

Having rounded second and third base and jogged in for the Home Run Grand Slam with so many incoming hits to my Think Tank Forum website, that I had to take down my byline link, I think I might counter your comment with a different personal perspective and opinion on the matter.

You see my theory is that one-two sentence paragraphs can detract from an article. It may appear to be easy reading, and perhaps easier to digest, but at the same time you do not wish to look cheap to the reader. In other words in those short sweet posts, easy reading, eye-pleasing comments, is there any juice?

If a reader looks at an article, which has only one line space, one line space, one line space; then are they apt to think that there is really any meat in it? Will they read it or commit to reading it? Or will they assume it is another salesy article?

Generally, I find one-line-space articles questionable on first glance. They immediately raise a red flag with me. I generally will not read them unless I am certain that they apply to the exact subject I am interested in. In fact in my personal view I do not find them pleasing at all, but rather insulting to my intellect, as if the author thinks they can bait me with BS or trite-ness.

So, I am now wonder “golly gosh” if perhaps there are different tastes out there and different types of readers. And in my personal view, I cannot write “one-line-space” articles that you believe are more pleasing to the eye, because in my opinion that lowers my standards and tells my reader that I consider them a fool. Now this is my opinion of course so do not karate-chop me for having it.

And to that point in school we do not teach kids in literature to write “one-sentence-space” or “two-sentence-space” articles. Now, I understand the world is evolving and online article marketing is about “Selling Something” but so were many other strategies like “the long sales letters”, but are some people simply less-swayed by all that now?

Is the table turning again on the one-line space or two-line space articles? Some people and I am not alone find them cheap looking. This is why I will not write like that. Of course Gary, if it works for your cassette tape sales and your readers like that, then you must do what works, so I understand where you are coming from of course.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 10:40 PM

[Reply]

67
Gary Simpson writes:

Lance,

All I was saying is that short paragraphs get read a lot easier than a massive monologue of text.

If what you are doing works for you then keep doing it. Good on you.

I was just making a general observation.

Gary

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 11:10 PM

[Reply]

68
Lance Winslow writes:

Gary,

I agree with your opinion actually of breaking up the text to make it eye-friendly, but only to a point of course. Perhaps not breaking it up as much as you might, but still I concur with your position.

And Gary, well, I totally agree with you that each author MUST do what works for them. When you find something that works as you have, go for it. Balls to the wall, make it happen and do not look back. So, we are one with that concept, after all you are speaking basic common sense to those of us who truly understand the online article marketing model.

Be well Gary, continued success in helping others achieve what you already have. It is great to be able to help others while running your own business. Much Kudos indeed.

Comment provided December 16, 2006 at 11:40 PM

[Reply]

69
Ed Howes writes:

Maybe instead of all this speculation about what readers want, we should all analyze our ten most published articles.

Comment provided December 17, 2006 at 12:15 AM

[Reply]

70
Gary Simpson writes:

Ed,

That is a very good idea.

But I wonder if it is “readability” or subject matter. Like… “How to Get Rich” would be a more popular topic than “An Investigation Into the Nocturnal Feeding Habits of the Great Brown Owl,” for instance.

The owl article may be brilliantly written. The get rich article could be a stinker.

Hoot hoot.

Gary

Comment provided December 17, 2006 at 12:39 AM

[Reply]

71
Lance Winslow writes:

Ed, You make a good point and perhaps then we might also realize that some categories are different than others in the popularity of Ezine Publishers?

I suppose also that Bloggers want shorter articles. Ezine Publishers want shorter articles for the most part although would also want a mixture and balance of substance and writing skill, but only because it is a reflection upon them what they pick and they know they must pick what their readers want otherwise the readers will unsubscribe right?

Indeed your question could be answered by EzineArticles. The top 10 articles in each category with the most pick-ups? Then look at these articles;

1.) Their Word Counts’

2.) Their paragraph sizes

3.) Reading Levels

4.) Density of subject matter

Then maybe we could get to the bottom of the question or closer to the over all answer? Inquiring minds want to know. And yes, Ed, that piece of data would be highly relevant to this Density Issue? Thanks for thinking of it, as now you have me thinking again too.

Comment provided December 17, 2006 at 12:44 AM

[Reply]

72
J. Michael writes:

“Dense writing – no matter how important
or compelling, does not get read.”

Stupid errors – such as (in the title) putting a comma instead of a dash – makes me suspicious.

The message is not withstanding of the style. The style does override the message, no matter how important or compelling of a message you may have.

J. Michael Brown, MA

Comment provided December 17, 2006 at 6:55 AM

[Reply]

73
Gary Simpson writes:

J. Michael Brown,

What you said is interesting.

I am often suspicious of incoming email. I know it is spam or a scam or a phishing exercise because the desperado sending it commits errors that make it detectable to me – EVEN in just the few words of the subject line. There is instant recognition. Kind of like the man in the raincoat syndrome.

This has been an interesting thread with lots of contributors. I think that Dr Pauline Wallin has a lot to answer for! (just joking)

Gary

Comment provided December 17, 2006 at 6:20 PM

[Reply]

74
Strephon writes:

Measuring Success

What I am getting from recent comments on the issue: ‚¬dense articles don’t get read’ is that we need to be more scientific, instead of stating opinions all over the place.

We need to measure success rates.

Let’s assume that the number of times an ezine article gets read is fifty percent determined by how the article is written and read, fifty percent determined by the subject matter of the article, and fifty percent determined by how effectively the article is distributed.

I know the numbers don’t add up, but so what, this is metaphorical exploration just to become clear on ideas.

Here are some of my numbers about Internet success that are open to interpretation:

-Since 8 months ago I have gone from 0 podcast listeners start to almost 40,000 podcast listeners for serious matter and not entertainment. I don’t find in the Libsyn statistics how many are repeat listeners and how many are one time download listeners but the numbers are real from them.

-This test proves to me that what I used to do in live teaching with enrolled and paying students still has effectiveness in the subject areas I do well because increasing numbers of people are downloading and know my name. Over 1000 a week now.

-Speculation. These results are for the free podcasts themselves. Now as I start with EzineArticles is it possible to get the same increase as quickly in readers? Is the delivery of information different?

Thus I am vitally interested in success rate and how you evaluate this.

-Success rate in terms of sales? Just starting and earned only 500 dollars since selling The Writer’s Interface two months ago at 19.95 dollars each interface, which also costs 35.50 for the software.

-Google comparison: ‚¬“Pauline Wallin‚¬“: 11,300 finds. ‚¬Strephon Kaplan-Williams‚¬“: 18,200 finds. Thus we measure success on the Internet, but what does it mean or convert to? Are my writings and talks ‚¬better’ than Pauline Wallin’s, and so my style is better? Is an expert the one with the highest numbers, no matter how they are derived?

-Personally it’s fun to compare with Dr. Wallin because I did not choose to do the hard work to get a real Ph.D., but chose for two Masters degrees instead. I appreciate her stimulating quote here, and have already differed a bit with her here, what little I know of her views.

-Bottom line: Can I make a lot more money than I am now making from an Internet presence, and how to do it? I consider making money an important measure of my reality sense and a return on my investment in being on the Internet. Just having Google statistics or free podcasts statistics no longer matters.

-Thus I want to learn to write EzineArticles well if they are part of being effective in earning money and not just numbers. This I don’t know about yet for my subject and style of communicating.

-Thus I would be interested in hearing from others here if they include making money as a measure of effectiveness of their EzineArticles? I would like to know what the figures are for Dr. Wallin. I am hard-nosed enough as a businessperson that I don’t want to be fooled by ‚¬experts’ who can’t show they earn money from their writing.

To use Dr. Wallin’s terms: If your articles are dense you don’t get read. I ask even more importantly, what kind of articles get read, and also directly, make money for the writer, and how is this done? Some here are for fuller writing. Is that because you have experienced that more information leads to better sales than simple, non-dense writing?

If this is not part of this theme I leave it to Chris and all of you to say so. Money is however a measure of writing effectiveness in my eyes.

Comment provided December 18, 2006 at 8:29 AM

[Reply]

75
Alex Bogoslav writes:

Looks like the comments here are more valuable than Dr. Pauline Wallin’s new course!

Comment provided December 18, 2006 at 10:37 AM

[Reply]

76

Alex,

Since I produced the report with Dr. Wallin, I can tell you that it’s much easier to read than this blog entry & comments… ;-) but I’m very happy that the market discussion is taking place because it provides for additional learning & discovery that Dr. Wallin and I might not have thought of for this short course.

Strephon,

First, I like that you are focusing on money as a scorecard for whether or not your investment in article writing and marketing is working…

BUT, having visited your website for 10 seconds, I am guessing you are a writer by trade and normally make money from your writing. This type of expert author typically has a hard time with the fact that article marketing is about generating qualified leads and qualified traffic back to your website as the primary reason for syndicating articles.

If article marketing was a get rich scheme, we’d have a whole different operation.

My point: Article writing & marketing in a site like ours is about generating pre-qualified traffic back to your website. It’s up to you to monetize that traffic and convert those visitors into revenue.

Comment provided December 18, 2006 at 10:57 AM

[Reply]

77
Strephon writes:

Chris,

Thanks for the clarification that article writing and distribution is to generate leads back to your original website where there you sell interested readers your work.

I am developing now downloadable books and audio books and hope to have a number of them on an improved website for marketing in this coming year.

Have you done a comparison of ezine article writing and distribution versus podcasting?

Or, do you have stats that show at least a word-count comparison for what size and density article gets distributed the most?

Should we all write 250-word articles because that size gets distrubuted and read the most?

My articles so far are around 2000 words almost, like my podcasts. I do this because this amount of words, well-written or said as well, is what it takes for me to cover a subject.

Maybe Dr. Wallin’s statement is considered extreme because some of us who tend to write long believe that if we get the ‘long reader’ to our site that will be the reader who is most likely to buy our books.

Is there evidence that the ‘short reader’ buys books? Why would anyone who likes to read only short articles that have a single point want to even read book-length works anymore?

Does she mean that dense is not just poor, hard-to-grasp, writing style, but also long or thorough writing style?

Should I not be publishing to the Internet long books? My only down-load book, The Writer’s Interface, now starting to sell, is 92,000 words long, but it is interactive as part of the WriteItNow software platform. So it’s not a regular style paper book.

If readers to EzineArticles of mostly less than 700 words are the largest body of article readers, is this the wrong group for me and other book writers?

Should we now divide our long books into six or eight shorter Reports to sell on the Internet?

I am serious here. I have expert information. I want to sell that information as well as give some of it away for free.

Chris and Others, you must have some idea about what style of article gets distrubuted and read the most. If you do can you tell us, or have another discussion thread?

Dr. Wallin’s ‘density’ statement is dramatic but it is negative. Are you both tackling the positive also: what does work, and not just what doesn’t work?

These are my concerns, and not just at debate level. I have to put my efforts out in the most effective way to get serious readers and income.

Thanks. I am happy to be part of this hightly regarded thread, as shown by your statistics.

Comment provided December 18, 2006 at 12:35 PM

[Reply]

78
Susan Scharfman writes:

Whew! For a bunch of writers this sure is a bunch of verbose verbaleeze! By now I’ve forgotten the subject, but the “thinkers” in this world (us of course) know that the information we get from our media is spooned and siphoned pap. A more comprehensive view of everything that’s happening worldwide comes from the worldwide press, especially UK. When I lived overseas BBC far outranked VOA for unbiased news and information. Fact is we are still a provincial nation that accepts sound bites as gospel because we simply are too busy for dense, and as a nation, too dense to question. Work and money are our mantras. In my last EzineArticles article I quoted a Frenchman who visited our country in the 1800s. Even then, he knew us better than we think we know us.

‚¬“As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?‚¬ ‚¬€Alexis de Tocqueville, 1831

Comment provided December 18, 2006 at 3:51 PM

[Reply]

79

On Dense writing.

I agree completely that it is really a rare occasion when dense articles get read in this internet age.

What makes an article interesting to read? When we are bombarded with innumerable emails and articles and pop-ups on the internet, what makes you pause and feel compelled to read an article?

Introduce a compelling idea
Well, first of all, the article should have a compelling topic or idea that is introduced in the first 5-10 seconds. Something to capture your attention and curiosity. It could be a story or an anecdote or even a statement or question to hook the readers. We all generally like stories and it is an easy way to connect with the audience. Write in a simple style and introduce a couple of your ideas surrounding the point of the story.

Break ideas into short paragraphs
Let each idea be developed into short paragraphs. I generally find it helpful to use subheadings or subtitles so that the idea jumps out at them in one glance. It is perfect for those who just scan through an article.

Make it short, simple and flowing
Another point I suggest is to have a connection from the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the other. The idea is to write in a flowing manner so that we can take the readers along with us on a smooth ride. When we use a dense style, it is like crossing rocky bumps on the way. Pay special attention to make your sentences short and crisp. Let us let our brains and eyes relax while reading the article.

Conclude with an Action Plan
Rouse the readers to act on the ideas if you can. Throw some questions or send some thought provoking messages in the end. Point certain directions to take and exit.

Best Regards

Dr. Neela R. Soman

Comment provided December 19, 2006 at 8:50 PM

[Reply]

80
Lance Winslow writes:

Wow, it sure is great to have so many Doctors and such well educated professionals giving such great advice at EzineArticles.com what a treat indeed. Without all this great advice how could the article authors reach these short attention span readers.

It is great to know how to do this correctly. I guess the well educated folks here are really helping us write to a dummying down readership. We certainly do not want to make them think or use their brains. We must write shorter paragraphs, title each paragraph so they understand what they are reading, use simple material and then at the end re-state the topic and then tell them what we want them to do and you know like, take the thinking out of it for them, so they can operate without any confusion.

Excellent advice, WOW, I am sure learning a lot here, thank you so much. This sure clears up so much for me. And all article authors should listen to these well educated folks to learn how to write and reach these readers so they can sell them stuff.

Comment provided December 20, 2006 at 1:20 AM

[Reply]

81
Gary Simpson writes:

Settle down Lance.

We all know that you are the article king here but you don’t have to be so critical of other people’s opinions.

You jumped into me a few comments back and I had the good grace to be nice about it.

Please don’t feel intimidated by somebody’s Doctoral qualifications. You probably know a heck of a lot more things than the narrow scope of a doctor’s field of specialization – judging from your incredible mass of diverse articles.

Everybody has an opinion. We read many of yours.

Having said that – have a nice Christmas.

Gary

Comment provided December 20, 2006 at 1:32 AM

[Reply]

82
Lance Winslow writes:

Apology for Misinterpretation

Sorry Gary, I did not mean for that to come off as facetious I was being so very serious. I am learning so much really and truly. Perhaps these Blogs are a difficult way of communication, as often someone can get the wrong impression. In fact the amount of knowledge that some of these Doctorates bring should be quite evident of the amount of geniuses we have here to help us improve.

Compliments and Wisdom

No need to give me any compliments Gary; they are irrelevant. But with that said; we must give credit where credit is due and just savoring these pearls of wisdom from the Doctorates makes one humbled.

Wonderful Gift Deserves Award

What a wonderful gift they bring us all and I believe that their years of schooling and the thousands they have spent is worth every penny, just judging by the great information that they freely give to us paupers. Just brilliant stuff indeed, they are so generous with their knowledge. EzineArticles.com should give them an award of some type? (whoops paragraph too long).

Conclusion and Action Plan

Can you think of an award to recognize them for their Mentorship? Is there a way to encourage more top Doctorates to come forth to assist the up and coming writers of the future? Let us take moment to reflect on this and figure out a way to promote more of this type of dialogue.

Comment provided December 20, 2006 at 2:09 AM

[Reply]

83
Gary Simpson writes:

Hi Lance,

I know this is a blog and not a forum. However…

I guess it would depend on what a person has a Doctorate in.

I know many medical doctors and they have shocking written communication (their hand writing is indecipherable too) skills.

However, if a person was a Doctor of Letters or something like that then they have probably studied the subject intensively.

Nobody doubts your prolific written ability. With 10,000+ articles published I really don’t know how you find the time, motivation and effort required. It is amazing. You don’t need to take that as a compliment – even if it is offered that way. It is merely a statement of fact.

Nevertheless, we can all learn from other people’s points of view whether they are a truck washer, a karate dude or even a doctor. It’s all grist for the mill.

By the way Lance, I must say that your last post was exceptionally easy to read. Nice.

Gary

Comment provided December 20, 2006 at 3:15 AM

[Reply]

84
Strephon writes:

How to handle article density?

Here is a new, maybe important slant on this issue of writing well so people will read and learn from what you say.

A lot of suggestions to write short articles and short sentences and paragraphs.

Let me suggest something equally important: write ideas that count!

Write good ideas, not just your ideas. Clarify your ideas before you write them for others.

Another kind of dense writing I am sure you have found, as I have, are comments and articles full of rather minor ideas, something like padding.

My concern for myself in writing is not just to come up with ideas to share but to self-analyze and see if my ideas have a chance of being important to myself and others.

-are your two or three main ideas per article well thought out?

-have you put your most important idea first?

-have you put your next most important idea last so as to end with a bang?

-are each of your key ideas connected to each other in some way, yet also each significantly different from each other?

-are you saying ideas already said many times and so most likely familiar to most readers already, or are you giving a new slant on something?

-are you making a clear distinction between a theory or overall perspective idea and practice ideas for specific use?

-have you separated out expressions of emotions from objective ideas and statements themselves?

-how do you connect yourself each time to the ideas you state? Are you a great success? Do you not mention your own experience but try to rely on a title like Dr.? Are you real with the reader?

-what evidence do you state to back up your idea?

-do you make a distinction between ideas backed up with evidence and experience? Or do you back up your ideas with the exaggerated claims that advertising copywriters usually write?

-do you have personal and professional integrity, which means that anything you write you back up by using and experiencing in your own life.

-this is a writer of successful how-to advanced manuals used in classes as well as for the general reader. He has to use the above principles and practices or a whole book bombs!

Guess this is a short article in itself. Thanks to everybody for sharing so many informative ideas here! I will submit these thoughts as an article, but wait first to see if there is feedback or additional ideas from others here. I can acknowledge these with names and quotes as well. ‘So and So says…’ Thanks!

Comment provided December 20, 2006 at 4:58 AM

[Reply]

85
Susan Scharfman writes:

On Denseness: The editor in me can’t shut up. SOS = Strunk & White. When you want less dense, omit adjectives and adverbs; leave verbs and nouns. Your sentences will be more dynamic. Here’s an example quote from above:

“Elsa’s linked article is actually a fair example of non dense writing, with short, single thought paragraphs. It just so happened her content was provocative as this thread shows, an unfortunate consequense of group education. People who read her articles will see they are not simple but are not dense either ! ”
vs.
Elsa’s linked article is non-dense with short, single thought paragraphs and provocative content. Her articles are neither simple nor dense.

I am not critiquing the author. Just using his conversational blog to illustrate less is more in non-fiction; and often in fiction as well.

Merry Christmas to all and to all “Happy Writing.”

suschar

Comment provided December 20, 2006 at 2:44 PM

[Reply]

86
Gary Simpson writes:

Strephon,

10/10 for your last post (#84).

Your katana hit all the targets and cut deeply. Your comments are very perceptive and informative. I enjoyed them.

I think your post is the best one here so far. Alas, that includes mine (sigh).

Great tameshikiri(*)

Gary

(*) a Japanese sword term meaning “cutting technique” – in reference to a comment that Strephon made in an earlier blog post (#55).

Comment provided December 20, 2006 at 6:07 PM

[Reply]

87
Ed Howes writes:

Susan,

I’m delighted with what you did to my post, most especially by including the original text. I said it once and I said it again, and yet again. It was my intention to compliment your writing. Reducing it to be hard hitting in this particular case would be counter productive to my intention. And the resulting edit is a great illustration of your intention. I’m liking this little blog community a great deal and I like what you add.

Strephon,

I am excited by the value you provide us in your posts. Thank you ever so much for sharing. I have a strong sense you are equally enthusiastic about contributing to this community. I hope you keep regular. :-)

Comment provided December 20, 2006 at 6:43 PM

[Reply]

88
Susan Scharfman writes:

For My Two Admirers: Love you too guys.

suschar

Comment provided December 20, 2006 at 7:35 PM

[Reply]

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Please read our comment policy before commenting.