Six Inches: Enough to Tell a Story?

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

I wrote another story about the Texas Ballet Theater this week. Because of space constraints, though, this story was much shorter than the others I’ve written. I swear, it’s harder to write a 250-word brief than it is to write a 1,000 word story.

It seems that more and more papers feature shorter stories. I’ve always liked writing longer pieces, so when I hear, “6-inch story,” I cringe. I’ve been writing for the Web for the past year, so I haven’t had to think in inches or lines, but now that’s all I hear in the newsroom. It’s difficult when I learn that my story can only be 6 or 8 inches, after I’ve already written a much longer story. If nothing else, though, chopping my stories is a good exercise in learning how to be clear and concise when writing. And it’s a helpful reminder that when writing short pieces, every word really does count.

You can read the short piece I wrote about the Texas Ballet Theater here.

What tips do you have for writing short pieces, or for condensing longer pieces into shorter ones?