Reading like a Writer and Writing Like a Reader

I sometimes cringe to think what the world will be like in 100 years from now. Will the spelling used in texting become standard? Will vowels and double, never mind triple, consonant words become a thing of the not so distant past? It might just be the case.

Language is a living thing, and like all living things it must adapt and change to its environment. Mainstream journalism is written at a fifth grade level here in the US because in order to reach the broadest audience and be understood, then write to that audience. It stands to reason that literature is also following that trend.bart190

Twitter too has helped to shorten our attention spans to 120 characters or less. The eloquence of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 146 Poor Soul, the center of my sinful earth would look something like this:

#Shakespeare #Sonnet146 Poor Soul center of sin.Ypretend on the outside all ‘s ok? V costly. U’ll be gone soon. Y bother? Ur Dead, dat’s it.

Or if we texted it:

Soul, stop pretending, ur goin’ 2 die. Accept.

Now I am not entirely accurate here, let’s face it. I am spelling 99% of the words correctly, which isn’t always the case in tweets and texts. But to be fair, it is about economical use of space, be it on a page, in a text box or in a tweet. To quote the bard himself, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” So Twitter and Texting are hilarious places to visit.

I can understand the need for brevity, the use of simple language, keeping it clear and concise for comprehension purposes. Believe me when I say that creativity should be fostered, I am not an elitist about grammar and spelling, and anyone who has read first drafts of my own writings will attest to it. So in simple language, don’t let poor grammar and spelling stop you from writing, all that can be cleaned up later.

What I am worried about is the decreasing attention span of the audience. If twitter becomes the norm, and texting becomes the standard, what will the content of literature look like in 100 years? So if we are to become better writers and follow the old adage of “Read like a writer and write like a reader,” I ask you: What is the reader going to want to read in 100 years, and should we write it?


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