Straight to the Point: the Miniskirt Theory of Writing

Amy Gahran, Contentious, Nov 11, 2008
Commentary by Stephen Downes

On this site, I have a story to tell in 100 words or so. I try to tell it in the first 23 words. The remaining 77 words are for added detail, quotes or whatever. The 23-word rule defined the length of the 'lede' in print journalism. That's how much attention your newspaper reader would give you. You had to write the whole story in the lede. People talk about how online writing is different, but in this respect, it isn't. It's just that the vast majority of people have not been taught how to write for newspapers (to me, that means they haven't been taught to write, but that's another story).
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