What is Brevity Looking for in the Brief Essay?

January 10, 2012 § 8 Comments

Here on the tippy-top floor of the Brevity corporate towers, we are just about fed up to our necklines with editor Dinty W. Moore, who does very little of the work yet seems happy at any moment to expound on “what we are looking for in a Brevity essay.”  His latest off-the-cuff approximation of wisdom can be found this week on the River Teeth blog.  Here is one gem from that conversation:

“You need to move in and out of scene quickly, you need to introduce language, diction, and rhythm immediately, and you need to establish place, character, and conflict right away – usually in the first sentence. “

Later he has the nerve to say this:

“I wish I knew how much work the magazine would become. I wish I’d been less of a control freak and brought in more people to help me sooner.”

Really?  The sound you hear now is twenty or so senior editorial staff members spitting out their coffee.

Somebody sit this guy down and tell him it is time to retire, will ya?



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§ 8 Responses to What is Brevity Looking for in the Brief Essay?

  • jen says:

    Don’t retire, Dinty!

  • This silliness reminds me that one of the things I like about the Brevity format is that it calls literary folks, who have a strong earnest streak, to more easily tap into the essential lightness of the essay, which has characterized it through history. My motto when I’m choosing essay collections is “More bemusement, less cancer.”

  • Laura Tamakoshi says:

    Hilarious truths! Someone who has the fortitude (a synonym for ego) and passion (another synonym for ego) to be a top anything is wise to have the wisdom to excise 90 per cent of the backstory i.e. his supporting cast.

  • I’d help you, if I could.

  • Mark Darrin Haase says:

    There is so much rancor in the world. We don’t need literary types fighting in cyberspace. It will just cause bad karma or whatever that Hindi word is. I think a lot of family dynamics are playing out here (I should know–I’m a therapist, am mentally disturbed and am in denial about it). I don’t have the time nor willpower to sift through the misdirected sublimation here. But let’s just say with Yeats that the center will not hold.

    On the more serious side, I have read Mr. Moore’s book on essay writing. A very good book from a very nice man.

  • Sounds like it’s time for a bit of minion-slapping, DM. Wish I had one to smack around.

  • @David Dickerson [in Butthead voice] You said “to more easily tap.” Hehe.

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