I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: f**k the tl;dr crowd. There is a place for longer-form writing on the web. And in print, too.
There are many people (far too many, in my opinion) who only want quick hits of information. Headlines. Listicles. Summaries. There’s more to reading, and understanding, than small chunks of information.
That’s where longer-form writing — writing that runs 2,000 or 3,000 or more words — comes in. Here’s why I think it still matters.
Longer-form writing lets you tell a story. Not just a snapshot, but a fuller, more complete story. You can tell that story from its logical beginning and tie in any background that’s needed.
Longer-form writing offers depth. This ties in with being able to tell a story. You can go into more detail with a longer piece. You can bring in conflicting view points. You can not just present the bigger picture, but look at the smaller pictures that make up that big picture.
Longer-form writing promotes analysis. Very little in this world is cut and dry. Very little is black and white. There are twists and turns. There are gray areas. By properly analyzing a story or an issue, you can bring some clarity to that story or issue.
Longer-form writing can last. It might not be for the ages, but a more in-depth article or essay or interview has a longer shelf life than the quick hit of information I mentioned at the start of this post. Readers can come back to a longer piece of writing — one which tells a story, offers analysis, and goes into more depth — to learn, to understand, and to enjoy.
What about readers with short attention spans? I constantly hear arguments about some peoples’ attention spans are growing shorter and shorter. And how some people won’t consider reading anything longer than a few paragraphs.
If you choose to write a longer piece, remember that you’re not writing for people who can’t or won’t focus. Ignore that audience. Instead, tell the best story that you can with the number of words you need to use.