On the tyranny of word limits

scribeWriting a review for a print publication rather than for this blog was an interesting process.  I think three things were weighing on my mind.  First was the sense that I needed to be, in some sense, “objective”.  Inevitably a review expresses a personal opinion but I felt a greater need to be “fair”.  In that respect I was very glad it was a good performance because I would not have been able to do my usual thing of just ignoring or skating over sub-par performances.  I also felt that I needed to avoid quirky observations and to stay on topic rather than wander where my interest and inclination led.  Finally there was this word limit thing; 375-400 words.  My initial reaction was how was I going to find that much to say about a performance that was basically a concert without sets or scenery, though there was some rudimentary blocking.  After all, I usually I devote at least as much space to the dramatic aspects as compared to the musical.  In the event the opposite was very much the case.  It proved horribly difficult to condense down to the required length.  All discussion of the “production” went by the board.  All I had room for was a brief discussion of how the piece had been cast from a voice type perspective, commentary on the singers’ performances as vocalists (not actors) and a brief note on the size and sound of the band.  And that was my word limit gone.

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One thought on “On the tyranny of word limits

  1. I understand. That’s why my DVD reviews are usually at least two posts long. I figure by the time I hit 800 words I will have lost my audience. A friend teases me that it takes me five minutes just to clear my throat and I guess I write that way!

    once we’re on a roll, it’s just hard to turn us off! :)

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