Most books are twenty percent too long. Films generally overstay their welcome by about thirty minutes each and speeches by about ten. The worst offenders are meetings, which are usually sixty percent longer than necessary. Blog posts vary by author, with some ramblers giving us eighty percent more words than are required for their message while others come right to the point, SEO be damned.
Musicians generally get it about right. They know how long a movement will keep our interest and when it needs to change. A few are tedious while others leave us wanting more.
I forgive writers their babbling far more than speakers. If an author is blathering I can easily skim over the unnecessary drivel and tune back in once he’s decided to return to the story. Joseph Conrad comes to mind – okay, the sea is pretty. We get it. Thanks for telling us so many times, at such infinite length and with such endlessly varied similes.
Too many authors think that they should write a novel when they really have a good idea for a novella. Novellas are underrated, as are short films. Why do we not have some films that go for an hour and cost half the price? Not everyone wants to sit through two and an half hours of Australians speaking in American accents as they swing through the city in tights battling unconvincing CGI monsters.
Oh, but meetings are the worst. If someone sends a ridiculously wordy email it’s no biggie to skim over it and pick out the vital details. But when someone is speaking, and speaking, and speaking, and we get what they want to say but they insist on continuing to say it anyway, there is no escape and they bloody well know it. This is an act of aggression against me. I have limited time on this planet and stealing it away from me is like a mini-murder (proper murder being the larger theft of all the time a person has left).