As a writer we are often asked to sum things up in 200 words or less. Writing lean is something I’ve been blessed to do. It was very seldom that my teacher’s complained that my papers were too long. If there was not a specific word count the odds are they would be too short. I’ve found a way to use as many words as it takes to get my point across and then I stop writing. However, when it comes to writing promotional materials and other book related copy, I some times find myself complaining that I need to write more.
How good are you when it comes to summarizing your work in 50 words or less? A good exercise, that I’m sure you’ve done on some level is to choose three words that best describes X. If you had to distill your 250 page novel or 400 page self-help book into three words, could you do it? Challenge yourself with this: Take the synopsis or maybe a review written about a work that you’ve read and tell the story with three words.
Being brief is a good skill to practice. If you want to use social media to market your books, you’ll need to catch a reader’s attention in a few sentences. If you’re giving an elevator speech, you need to capture your listener’s imagination in as little as 30 seconds. Most readers will not continue to read beyond page three if they are not drawn into the story by then. Attention spans are short and getting shorter with every new piece of technology that becomes available.
Make it a practice to never use two words when one will do. Get to the point and get there quick. Once you have their attention, then you can take your time. But remember readers have questions, like ” why should I care” and “what is this all about.” The quicker you answer their questions, the more likely they are to want to stick around and learn more.
Until Next Time,
Nicole D.P. McLaughlin