Six Inches: Enough to Tell a Story?

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?

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at

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