Writing for Goldfish

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish.

I’ve taken enough classes and workshops and done enough writing and reading to know, when writing, to be succinct.  Keep your writing tight.  Make every word count.  As the writer of a blog for the last eight years, I have written hundreds of relatively short posts, each on a specific topic, and contained within an overall theme, Debbie Does 50!  Please don’t go looking back at each post to see if I did, indeed, write concisely.  The point is most of my posts have been in the 400 to 800-word range.  I like that length both for writing and for what I like to read.  When perusing a magazine, if an article goes beyond the first page I am likely to just skip over it – too long!

Now my quandary is I am trying to write a book.  A short book, but a book, not a blog post.  The reality is each topic within my book could be a blog post, but I’m finding, in my typical style, each topic is relatively short when I first write it.   So I’m wondering – what fleshes out the topic?  I’m listening to a book right now in which the author has said the same thing, over and over, in different ways, but without really adding any new content.  I don’t want to be that writer.

This challenge of writing a book in 30 days has uncovered new, unexpected challenges.  Yesterday it was the challenge of actually writing.  Today I’m grappling with this one:  when one has been trained to write for humans, how does one learn to write for goldfish and still maintain meaningful content?

2 thoughts on “Writing for Goldfish

  1. You are absolutely correct, Debbie! After a half century’s work in behavioral sciences academia, I, too, am finding it difficult to find my more expressive side. I sent the first few chapters of my current work to a dear, dear friend, who reads a wide range of fiction, and she told me that she really did not like the main character — K seemed remote, aloof, too factual. Whatta shock!! So I read a lot of Agatha Christie to see how this author gets us to like the silent Miss Marple. And, I’ve scanned some recent ‘best sellers,’ and now I’m sort of finding my voice. And, no, in spite of all you may read on the ‘formulas’ for writing a book in a month, it’s much longer and more arduous an adventure. I’m now doing a third revision of what I have so far, trying to find the right format to showcase my characters and to move the story along. . . I’m hoping your experiences will inform mine, and (maybe) mine can inform you . . .


  2. Looking forward to the “Goldfish” version coming soon. Or maybe the “Goldilocks” version – not too long, not too short, just right.


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