The Alchemy of Length

None of this matters if the piece is good—and that’s determined by voice and narrative, not length. Going long is always more ambitious and usually more fun. This was true before lengthy pieces became “creative nonfiction” or “narrative journalism,” and it is true now that we’ve finally debunked the simple-minded Web assumption that no one will screen-read anything longer than a news capsule. No writer I ever edited wanted to go short, anyway. Neither do I, but I also know that the best pieces seem to find their own length. That’s the alchemy.

- Terry McDonell, The Accidental Life: An Editor's Notes on Writing and Writers