OMG I’m a Rambler!

by LimebirdRaven

When did that happen?  I have always prided myself on brevity–even sometimes to a fault, maybe.  I’ve just never seen a need for long emails or papers or what have you when a short one would do.  A coworker of mine, for example, tends to have a minimum of 3-4 paragraphs in each email she sends.  I personally never do more than skim her emails because she rambles so much.  I’ve heard that others do the same with her emails, reading only a paragraph or so and then skimming the rest if it applied to them.

Why bother?  Why waste the time if nobody is going to read it?  Another example from work is our lengthy email confirming software upgrade schedules.  None of the clients read them!  What a waste!  I have to spend my time repeating half of what is in that email for most of the clients I work with.  Given these examples, why not be brief?  If further clarification is needed, the client can certainly reply to the email or call to ask questions, right?  They’re going to do so anyways, so why waste the time and effort with such a detailed email?

Of course–this venue is a little different.  Here I can understand the need to be thorough.  Still, I remember reading somewhere that, statistically speaking, most people only read the first paragraph of most online articles and blogs (and probably emails) unless something really grabs their attention, so that first paragraph has to zing!  Knowing this, I try to keep my blog posts brief and interesting.

This past Thursday, however, I was in class taking a quiz on a piece of literature we had been assigned.  On one of the questions almost done with my second line of text when the instructor asked her next question.  At that moment I had two realizations: 1) The question had apparently called for a one word answer, and 2) I’d been RAMBLING!!!  What the heck?!?  This can’t be right!  Sure enough, as you can see, my writing has become a bit bloated as of late.  I think I’m still pretty concise, but certainly I’ve been writing a bit more than before in each post.  Perhaps this means there is more clarity in my writing, which would be a very good thing; at least, I hope it’s an improvement.

Anyhow, my question is this:  Concise? Detailed? Is there a balance?  How should we write?

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34 Comments to “OMG I’m a Rambler!”

  1. Then again, in skim reading by definition we only sees what’s on the surface. Brevity is perfect for PR, and Marketing, and 24 hour news, but the devil’s often in the detail – and sometimes even the angel?

    Dickens was paid by the word/column-inch, so he was verbose, yet he still kept a commercial audience spell-bound. But then I suppose times and audiences have changed. There’s a huge market now for novels that use brevity in sentences and paragraphs and chapters, that leave the “non-essentials” to the reader’s imagination.

    i don’t think there’s a simple answer – We always write for an audience, whatever we imagine that audience to be, but we also write for ourselves. i guess it comes down to what you want to say to whom – and a bit of what comes natural.

    • Excellent points, unpub. I guess it is a matter of style and audience, as well as necessity. I’m just rather surprised at the change.

  2. I am also a rambler, especially in work emails. I’m like the one you all ignore at work, I noticed a few years ago. So now what I do is write my mile long rambles, read over them, delete all the lines that are repeated about 15 million times, and then send it off LOL!

    I think there is a balance. I think you can get out a good amount of detail, without writing a novella of a blog post. Honestly, for me, I find that if something is 5-6 paragraphs I’m OK, but anymore I start to skim. Then I mentally kick myself and go back to re-read what I skimmed over.

    • Laura, that is an EXCELLENT solution for the work emails!

      As for the blogs, I do the same, I try hard not to skim. I’m getting to where I have so many I want to read and so little time sometimes I have no choice, but there are some I will always read in their entirety.

  3. My answer is very simple. We should each write in our own voice, our own language, regardless of length. People respond, or at least I believe they do, to sincerity in blog posting. No two bloggers are the same, and the people who want to read a post are going to read the post, while the people who don’t, aren’t.

    • Judith, I think as long as it’s from the heart, you are exactly right! It really just needs to be real. Thanks for your insight!

  4. In business, the more you can say in fewer words, the greater the likely hood the recipient will understand. In fiction, I don’t think word count matters as long as the story and characters propel the reader’s interest. Hemingway did it in 6 words, as I recall.

  5. I think it depends on what your are writing…..if it’s a news article, it should be short, concise and to the point. However, in fiction you need more works. In posts it just has to be interesting.

  6. I read a lot of blogs, so I appreciate ones that can keep it to around 500 words or so. If they’re much longer than that, I have to skim. I hope I do this on my own blog, but I have to admit sometimes fall short – or do I mean long?

    • That makes sense to me. I have the same problem about going over 500 words. I try to keep mine short for that reason…except when it’s book chapters. I may have that problem too regarding falling short…or long, as it were hehe.

  7. I find that where I would like more detail a text is too brief and where I get the ‘gist’ there is too much detail. I do not think you cannot tell whether a reader will skim or not, regardless of length of text. Some readers may skim for various reasons other than lack of interest. Hopefully for every 1 skimmer you’ll have 10 non-skimmers. Ramble on, my dear!

  8. Rambling isn’t so much about how much you write, but the relevance of everything you have written. I tend to ramble, so I let myself ramble when I’m writing and then I go back through it and question the relevance of each thing I’ve said to the purpose of what I’m writing.

    • Excellent plan. I try to do that in my stories, but I’m not great about that in my blogs. I will try to be more disciplined in that matter.

  9. Being succinct has never been one of my virtues, but I have a lot of respect for people who can get their meaning across in a concise manner. I don’t think there’s a definitive answer though, as what might feel like rambling can be completely gripping for the reader. If I’m engaged by what a person is saying the length of the post doesn’t really come into it. I guess there should still be some kind of structure to the ‘ramble’ though in terms of introducing the themes, discussing the themes and concluding the themes of the post – if there’s logical progression then it’s not really rambling.

    Thus ends my admittedly rambling comment! x

    • Wonderful skimming there. KIDDING!! HEHE I’m sure I have days, at least when speaking to family and such, when I ramble with no order. I know my emails have sometimes been that way, but I don’t feel like my writing is. That may be because I plan more. I’m still very much a pantser, but I do have a direction in mind before I get very far in my fiction.

  10. We all have our quirks. You like to ramble. I’m partial to non sequiturs: for example, when you said “OMG I’m a Rambler!” I thought you had suddenly turned into this, a la Kafka’s Metamorphosis:

  11. No one is a bigger rambler than my mother. She will leave five-minute long messages about NOTHING and then finally get to the reason she called. So, I have to listen to all of that silliness before I know what it is she wanted!

    As I got older, and her habit annoyed me more, I suddenly became afraid that I may be a rambler. So, I studied how I left messages or emails or whatever. I’m not as bad as my mother, but I definitely needed to rein it in.

    Actually, it is a good practice because of querying literary agents. There is no room to ramble in query letters. In my loooong months of learning how to write a QL, I also learned how not to ramble!

    • Lord I know what you mean!! My mother could talk for an hour about what was on TV that day and what she ate that day. I don’t have that kind of time, and I honestly hope I never do. It may be that a closet motive in my writing is to not ever have so little to talk about. I need to stay busy, and I hope I never live my life through food and TV. I wrote a story on that. I plan to publish it next week if possible, depending on my response (or lack thereof) from the contest I entered.

      If I do…I intend to edit it a bit first. I’ve had some new ideas since I submitted it. (Now who’s rambling??)

  12. My partner says that I’m a terrible storyteller! 😦 Yet she loves my writing. I guess that when I tell a story rather than writing it down, I jump back and forth, giving all the (to me) ‘interesting’ stuff. Unfortunately, it is not always interesting to my partner!

    When I write a story I have the chance to read it all out at once and then I can see the rambling (and cut it out!).

    There is no one answer, as Dorothy said, if there was, then how can one explain the appeal of shaggy dog stories?

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