How Short is Your Attention Span?
When I was twelve I read a book called The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley.
It was written in 1863 in very small type and was 205 pages long. Each chapter had snippets from poems by William Wordsworth, Coleridge and the like and it was a story with a moral at the end.
A few years ago, I re-read the book and was amazed that my 12-year-old self should have found this book not only readable but exciting – it had been one of my favourites. I was shocked that someone of such a young age should have had the persistence and determination to read a book where you had to wade through mountains of words before getting to the point. Hurray for my 12-year-old self.
These days our young children and even adults are hostage to sound bites, whether they are on television or in magazines or in books. I think we have lost something in not taking the time to allow a story to build up to something. Every writing teacher (including myself) teaches that a story should begin in media res which means ‘in the middle of things and unfortunately it is true for our day and age. But if Charles Dickens
or others of his ilk were to become authors today, they would have to change their styles or never make it to being published.
How short is your attention span?