A life in seven words

“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”  My mom would tell me that when I was getting mouthy as a kid, but those words took on a different meaning when I started working in the communications industry.

My editor at the Chicago radio station where I worked taught me to keep the story to three short sentences.  For a radio listener, 30-seconds is an eternity; more than enough time to switch stations.  I became an expert at writing pithy, tight copy.  At the station, the mantra was: “write tight or not at all.”

Today, social media is shrinking the word count again. Twitter sets the maximum character count at 140.  Recently, a high school freshmen I know was asked to write her memoir in seven words.   She could do it in just a couple minutes: “Asked to put on high heels. Screamed.”

Now more than ever, Mom’s advice is still valid.

–Linda Muskin

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