The New Craft of Writing

This is a Guest Post by Lynden Gillis of

The current craft of writing is now evolving as the world is evolving – faster than ever before. This evolution is dictated by technology.

mini novella ebookWithin a year or two, over 90 % of Americans will spend an average of two and a half hours a day using their smartphone or tablet – already nearly as much time as they spend watching TV, and soon to be more. Wherever they are, as they move about, people will use their omni-present mobile devices to obtain most of their daily information and entertainment.

Accordingly, tablets and smartphones will increasingly become a preferred book reading device for 21st century Americans on the go. And books that appeal on these small screen devices will have much greater opportunity for popularity.

So what will improve a book’s appeal on mobile devices? First, of course, the text must be easily read on small screens. This means a clean, open, not small type face, with ample space between lines and comparatively narrow columns to avoid density.

Low density and narrow columns will increase the number of lines and vertical space taken up by sentences, making them harder for readers to track and comprehend on small screens. Therefore, sentences should be relatively short so that they don’t extend over many short lines and pages.

Sentence brevity would be well complemented by a straightforward prose style that facilitates quick comprehension on moving devices in an environment fraught with distractions. These challenges to reading on mobiles and to concentration span are also better met by brevity of paragraphs, chapters and stories.

The foregoing foretells that long novels with stretched out plots, complicated sentence structure, and finely detailed descriptive material are not likely to attract large mobile audiences. This correlates with the perhaps unfortunate reality that people raised in a digital world and inundated with media messages prefer to receive their information quickly and in brief.

On mobile devices, books must compete with videos, games, constant news updates, etc. A dense page of black type on white background is not competitive. So, in addition to the style and format enticements noted above, visual and technological enhancements – color, illustrations, animation, interactivity and digital referencing – will make mobile book reading competitive.

Recent surveys reveal that books created for mobile users, as described herein, appeal not just to traditional readers, but also to that half of Americans who rarely, if ever, read traditional books. This doubles the size of the market for enhanced e-books. And e-books are already selling twice as fast as hard-copy books through Amazon.

When it comes to popularity, the consumer is always right. The consumer will call the shots on what type of books are in demand, and authors will comply. Which means that the craft of writing is headed for seminal change.

Successful writers will learn, perforce, to write more succinctly, to be clearer, to pare extraneous verbiage. Fiction will be generally shorter, easier to read, probably more plot-driven, and enhanced by graphics and interactivity.

A prototype of this new type of short, fast fiction is the “GetFisk” series of monthly mystery thrillers created by Potboiler LLC for smartphones and tablets. Each novella can be purchased for $1.99 through Amazon, ibookstore, or Barnes & Noble, or read a chapter a day free on

The craft of writing is starting to change profoundly. We may lose some wonderful turns of phrase in the process, but we will gain more readers. And achieve a renaissance of reading.

Lynden Gillis