Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bloggers, one theme per post, please

Blog posts aren't books. You only have time to make one major point per post.

In support of my thesis, I offer three quotes from The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing by Francis Flaherty, an editor at The New York Times.
  • "A writer is like a gardener who knows one tree can serve as a focal point in a garden, but that many trees will just muck up the impact of each. Also, a good writer realizes that readers have the mental room to store just one large thought from a story," pages 32-33.
  • "A subject is not a story; it is many possible stories. To write is to choose, which is to exclude," p. 33.
  • "No detail belongs in a story if it doesn't serve some role therein. As Chekhov said, don't put a gun on stage in Act I if it doesn't get used by the end of the play," p. 37
What do YOU think of Flaherty's quotes?

By the way, if you're struggling to crank out a steady stream of readable blog posts, consider enrolling in my five-week teleclass for financial advisors, "How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read."

Related posts
Five great writing tips: They're not just for ads
Financial writers, lead with your message, not your source
Bloggers' top two punctuation mistakes 
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved


  1. As an editor at an advisory firm, I applaud your posting Flaherty's quotes. So many investment-type jobs involve research, where data rules. But what the data means should be the focus, which then guides the writer in culling out the important numbers. Readers can take only so many numbers before becoming numb.
    By the way, Susan, any interest in taking on
    corporate speak like "reaching out" and "going forward"?

  2. Harriett,

    You put it well when you say "what the data means should be the focus." I may borrow your phrase for a future blog post, with credit to you, of course.

    Would you like to write a guest post on expressions such as "reaching out" and "going forward"?

    Thanks for your comments, Harriett!


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