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Long On Short

Another week of classroon training in office. This time, the teacher is Teresa Castle, a seasoned American journalist. Like Teresa, the first question that came to mind was: why do we need this all over again? An over enthusiastic colleague thought he had found the answer, "To refresh ourselves and do a check of our own writing and see where we are headed." I'd imagined Teresa to give a thumbs up to that but she was like "Er, well, yes that but we also have to think about the audience we are writing for." So the session is all about learning how to tell stories with simplicity and elan and how to develop that style. Clearly, a skill that most writers need to hone.

Now I spin into panic whenever I face any kind of teacher. You see there is this age-old problem with me. Having been a back-bencher all my life, I have problems concentrating. So when the teacher is teaching I am looking for ways to entertain myself. In school, it was reading all kinds of books other than school books with my text-book for cover. Still, I am hoping Teresa will do me some good.

Writers never graduate from the school of writing. That's what Teresa said. I have taken that to heart -- among all the things she said. So that partly explains the never ending training sessions we are exposed to these days. Next I heard is grammar classes. Not that people who write in our profession do not know basic grammar but it's like a referesher course, almost like re-disciplining ourselves to the rule of grammar, which we more often than not tend to break in our rush and pursuit of path-breaking stories. :) That's the rationale behind grammar for the know-it-all types.

I am only worried about one thing that Teresa said, which is, the shorter the sentences, the better the readability. And she said to try something called the readability index on word. The benchmark: 10 to 12 word sentence to churn out an ideally written story. Now that to me is not the best thing about writing. I have my pauses, but how do I sort out my long thoughts?


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