Shorter than Short

Opinions, Public Relations Posted Jul 29, 2014 by chenpr

Last month the Atlantic ran an article entitled “The Surprising Power of Stories that are Shorter than Short Stories.” The headline caught my attention because, as a writer, it suggested there might be some information woven within the article that could help with my own compositions.

handeyIt also caught my attention because, as a public relations professional, I am a story teller operating in a fast-paced environment where brevity is a necessity. Long-winded pitches, buried leads and unclear, circuitous logic can doom even the best media overtures. Attention spans are short and good ideas are in no short supply. To rise above the din you must excel at telling stories that are shorter than short.

Coincidentally, a friend recently shared a link to a New Yorker column by Jack Handey (yes, that Jack Handey) called “Tales of Old Santa Fe” that seemed to embody the shorter than short ethic. Each of the tales holds the reader’s attention, entertains subtly while making its point quickly, and then ends when it has no more to say.

There’s nothing overtly profound in the stories apart from what the reader brings to it in the story’s wake. And that is the magic.