How many times have you sat in a movie and asked yourself, “When is this going to be over?” What about that last book you read when halfway through, you flipped to the end to see how many pages were left? Or how about that web article where you scrolled to the end to see how much more you can endure.
The issue isn’t size really. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings stretches across 3 volumes including those voluminous footnotes. Michelangelo’s The Creation runs across an entire ceiling and you have to really bend your neck to see it. Dante’s Inferno is 14233 lines in its original. Their size is just fine. No, the problem is something else. How much is enough and where the heck is the editor?
I once sat in a comedy cafe with an open mic. On the back wall was a sign that the owner flashed that said “Wrap it up,” before the eager jokester died on stage. Vaudeville had a saying,”Always leave them wanting more, not less.” Even novelist Ernest Hemingway, the master of terseness, had a master editor named Max Perkins.
Web writers take note. The short attention span on the web means page views don’t necessarily translate into actual extended reading. If you don’t have an editor, get someone to read it over before you post. You may end up with something a bit shorter, but minus the literary dust bunnies — and just think of all the embarrassing typos that will disappear.
Ralph Caplan has an excellent article on the decline of editing over at the American Institute of Graphic Arts(AIGA). Check it out.