In Praise of Long Form

by Charlottesville29

One of the great benefits of running a website with no advertising or revenues is the freedom to do “what I want when I want,” as an old friend likes to say. With no master other than my own interest, I can write whatever I choose to write about whenever I choose to write about it. I can even create my own rules, like focusing on the positive.

I also have no limit on length. Most newspapers and magazines impose strict word limits on writers. Here at The Charlottesville 29, I am free to indulge in pieces as long as I like. In the past, I have utilized this freedom more than once – whether for a thorough introduction to a new steakhouse, the love story behind the warmth of an Italian storefront, or a full biography of Charlottesville’s signature restaurant.

Of course, it is important not to abuse the freedom. Blaise Pascal ended one of his Provincial Letters to the Reverend Fathers with an apology: “The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.” Indeed, brevity can take time. The word limits of standard published pieces encourage strong, efficient prose. Those limits and skilled editors conspire to encourage good writing habits and prevent writers from humoring themselves with unnecessarily flowery, ostentatious, grandiose, multi-syllabic, verbiage, that is excessively overflowing with extravagantly elaborate adverbs and adjectives blatantly intended to camouflage the ineptitude of the writer by drawing attention to his supposed erudition rather than serving what should be the primary purpose of writing, which is to communicate with the reader, and therefore, for one thing, avoid run-on-sentences that seem to go on forever and cause readers’ eyes to gloss over before they even finish reading all of the superfluous palaver.

Where was I? Oh yes, be concise.

While I do strive for that, next week I will publish one of my longest pieces in years. In this case, though, the length is not because I lacked the time to make it shorter. Rather, it is because, in my view, the topic warrants much to say. I hope some readers will agree.