The longer you write, the more confusing it gets. When writing papers during school, teachers will make you write more words than you need to. College professors and editors of newspapers may limit you to a certain number of pages/words.
So which is better? Should you write more words or fewer?
Fewer. Always write fewer.
Everyone in journalism wants to talk about how newspapers are dying, and that’s true. Well, physical newspapers, that is. The coverage isn’t going away — it’s just going online.
This change has a large impact on the readers. Sure, they have to go to the outlet’s website in the morning rather than their front doorstep. With no limitations in space, however, stories are a lot different now. Stories aren’t reduced to the size of the page(s) they’re printed on.
While editors are likely still giving writers a general range of words, there is no longer a concern for a lack of printing space.
This is a good thing. More information is always better. But it also gives writers room to ramble.
In a professional journalism setting, rambling isn’t likely to happen too often. Trained professionals know the art of concision and their editors understand its importance more than anybody.
All writing isn’t done by professional journalists, however. In the digital age, anyone can become a writer. Just look at Medium!
Here on Medium, a reader knows the length of the story (in minutes) before even clicking.
Length doesn’t necessarily determine how concise a story is, though. A 3,000-word story may be chock-full of important information while a 300-word story could be too long.
Most Medium writers seem to understand the importance of concision. To build an audience of loyal readers, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time. Wasting words and rambling to get your word count up does nothing but lose readers.
If you look through my stories, you’ll see a ton of short ones. The majority of my stories are between 2- and 4-minute reads. I don’t aim to sell long, in-depth stories to readers when I can jam-pack important facts and insights into shorter stories.
When you waste words, you waste readers’ time.
Concision doesn’t have to mean cutting out large chunks of a story, either. Cutting out 15–30 useless words can help with flow and earn credibility with your readers.
This is why so many successful writers preach the importance of editing. Reading back through your story once or twice before publishing can make a huge difference. It gives you an opportunity to re-structure paragraphs and sentences to make the reading experience that much better.
And hell, it may even mean adding stuff. You shouldn’t aim for short; you should aim for telling your story as briefly as possible. If it takes more than 1,000 words to do that, that’s fine.
Don’t shoot for long stories just to look more knowledgable on a topic. Your rambling doesn’t help anyone.