Getting to the point
I once heard that the first three movements of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony were just the composer's effort to get to the point -- the fourth movement and chorale.
Thinking of these three great movements as an extended introduction Beethoven couldn't get beyond gives something to think about.
In writing, I often go all over the place trying to say something. I set things up like a comedian, but never arrive at the punch line. I offer some background, but have no point for it. The background consumes everything I had to say.
What I realize is that the information is not the problem. Rather, it's the approach. It's a failure to get to the point.
What is behind this lack of a point? Why do I wander all over the map, saying a lot but avoiding specifics?
I once had an editor who was horrid, rude and intolerable. No matter -- he taught me a lot.
He introduced me to the concept of a "nut graph," which is a paragraph, say three or four paragraphs into the story, in which you sum up what happened, where, and why it mattered.
This simple "nut graph" has kept me grounded through many stories, long and short. At some point, you have to say where you are.
A professor put it this way. He said that in our research papers, we should be like a preacher, "Who tells you what he's going to say, then says it, then tells you what he said."
Sometimes, we hear a lot of "blah blah blah." I think it's because we're not getting to the point.
AHEAD: What are we afraid of?