“As a journalist,” I tell my despairing students, “you are finally in the storytelling business.” We all are. It’s the oldest form of human communication, from the caveman to the crib, endlessly riveting. Goldilocks wakes up from her nap and sees three bears at the foot of her bed. What’s that all about? What happens next? We want to know and we always will.
Writers! Never forget to tell us what’s up with the bears. Manage that content.
William Zinsser writes about content, long form journalism, and his students who don’t seem to get that sentences follow one upon the other building something sequentially. That difficulty with logical reasoning isn’t just in the writing, but also in the thinking. His explanation is that students are exposed to too much short random information. But I wonder whether it isn’t that logical reasoning is rarer than people think. Studies show how easily people’s views changed when primed by words or images. So much of what we think is inchoate and unconscious, justified after the fact. To recognize that and think carefully takes much patience and awareness as well as what we ordinarily think of as intelligence. How common is it?