Write Short: 3 Classic Stories To Remind You Why

One of the best and worst elements of the web is that it’s freed us from worrying about word count when we write. I don’t know about you, but I can be pretty lazy about writing tight — which, as we all know, almost always means writing better.

I can’t even count the number of times I told reporters what Mark Twain said: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.” It’s a good insight for beginning writers, and one that bears remembering even if you’ve been working at this for a long time.

I got a good reminder today when I stumbled across this collection of short pieces from the Nieman Storyboard.

Here’s ‘Death of a Racehorse” by W.C. Heinz. I love those old sports stories — this one is from the New York Sun.


“The 99-year-old man who learned to read” was written in 1998. It’s inspiring, and a good reminder not to give up on the things you’ve always wanted to do.


This one is a powerful editorial from the Birmingham church bombing. When I read it, I wonder if it could be written now, or if all of our writing, even the writing that is supposed to stir people to action, has become too cynical.




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