06.22.17: You don’t have to jump
IF YOU’RE GETTING TIRED of these continual hints about jumps, then—please!—don’t look down.
But if you think it’s worth your time to read on, then please do.
I don’t like jumps. ‘m that way because I know readers don’t like jumps.
I remember a pivotal moment many years ago at a newspaper I was redesigning. A woman who worked in the accounting department at that newspaper stood up during a discussion of how the newspaper works/doesn’t work for readers. She admitted that she had no concept of how the newsroom works or why editors do the things they do.
She said, firmly: “I’ll tell you how I read my copy of the newspaper at home. I look for those little lines at the end of a story on Page 1. That little line that says ‘See page whatever…’ I don’t read that story. Then I look for that little line at the end of another story. If that little line is there…well…I don’t read that story. And that’s the way I go over page 1. I don’t read any story that goes inside.”
I responded: “But sometimes, all the stories from page 1 jump.”
“That’s right!” she said. “And I don’t read any of them!”
That may be a bit extreme, but we know that readers:
DO! NOT! LIKE! JUMPS!
And yet, we continue to give readers what they do not like.
But we don’t have to. We can learn to write shorter stories. And for those stories that need length, we can learn to segment. We can learn to create packages that have three or four shorter stories instead of one long one.
You don’t have to jump.
The first step is making the commitment to shorter stories and to writing in segments for longer pieces.
You don’t have to jump. It starts with coming back off the ledge, taking a look at what you’re doing…and deciding to do it better.