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wundayatta's avatar

How is it possible to write short or no-detailed questions?

Asked by wundayatta (58586points) October 21st, 2010

I’m going ‘round the bend. Really. I have lost the ability to explain what I mean in less than four paragraphs. I need details for my details. Once, I realized I’d been at a question for half and hour! I made myself toss that one. Oh who am I kidding. It’s been more than once.

But it all seems so…. necessary. I mean, that’s what details are for, right? Details? And people never understand, so you add more and more, and it only gets worse. Is there a detailaholics anonymous?

I mean, I can see one extensive question every week or month or so. But five in a row??? Soon to be six?

Give me help. How do you keep it short? Is there any hope for me? Will I ever be able to write a short one?

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24 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Perhaps you are too invested in your questions. Stop giving birth. Just push them out of the nest.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Here are a few Mark Twain quotes for ya :))

You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God’s adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.
– Letter to Orion Clemens, 3/23/1878

I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English—it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.
– Letter to D. W. Bowser, 3/20/1880

JustmeAman's avatar

We all tend to make things way to difficult. The meaning is there often times but here on Fluther more than most places I’ve been too, everyone seems to be a critic and have to state what your question means. Then others get on the band wagon and before long the question is not the response purpose anymore. It happens quite often so absolutely nothing is accomplished.

crazyivan's avatar

I’m sorry if this comes off as condescending, but the truest measure of a writers talent is their ability to keep things succinct. Writing a 600 page novel is time consuming, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as summing up that novel in a 3 paragraph query letter.

Remember, verbosity is the enemy of specificity. Very often adding more detail just makes your question harder to understand. Once you’ve written your question (or essay, whatever you end up with), go at it with a scalpel. People are only going to take the surface points anyway, so be sure that you eviscerate everything else.

I got a piece of sage like advice long ago from an author I respect very much. I was having a similar problem (though it was for the synopsis of a book rather than a Fluther question, it seems pretty applicable). He said that if you can’t describe the plot of your book in a few sentences you don’t really have a plot at all.

Sorry if it seems like I’m talking down to you. That certainly is not my intent. With this answer is evidence, I can bloviate with the best of them…

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I like to make questions (when I do make them here, as I do rarely) as general as possible so that people will think outside of the box that I find myself trapped in from time to time. Then you can pick up the nuggets and follow up on the answers that contain particular meaning to you.

Blondesjon's avatar

What?

you’re welcome

chyna's avatar

You have “lost the ability to explain yourself in less than 4 paragraphs? Really? Since when? :-) Much Lurve @wundayatta !

the100thmonkey's avatar

If you provide so much detail, are your questions really questions?

I mean, if you spend so much time carefully framing your enquiry, doesn’t that prevent – or at least discourage – variety in the answer?

Nullo's avatar

Revise, revise, revise. Give yourself a five-line limit, and rework your work until you get all of the important stuff in under budget.

wundayatta's avatar

@the100thmonkey You make zs very good point. I could be trying to control things too much.

seazen's avatar

I’ve written a couple hundred less than you – Day – but after about 700 I got the idea – and most of mine are short. Just read a few and you’ll get the idea – unless you like writing all about yourself in the details part of the questions – and why you are asking it, and how it is related to your life.

I usually don’t. I ask a question, and depending on the answers – post my own.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Write the question & details. Then, ask yourself what the heart of the question is. Delete everything else.

This would be:
I can’t seem to write short questions. No matter what I do, brevity is simply not in me. What’s your trick for keeping it short and sweet?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

One of my college professors used to say that an essay should be like a girl’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to keep it interesting.

seazen's avatar

@hawaii_jake Nice. But duck.

josie's avatar

Hell. The best part of the question is the details. If it were not for the opportunity to write the details, I probably wouldn’t ask a question.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@hawaii_jake Huh. See, I’m more of the mindset that it should expose the subject.

notdan's avatar

Don’t look at your attention to detail as a bad thing. Framing a question the right way, with the right background / details provided, is essential to getting a good answer.

Anyone who answers questions well would rather too much detail than too little.

augustlan's avatar

I like to see good, thought provoking details… whatever their length. If I had to choose, I’d rather receive too much detail than not enough.

jrpowell's avatar

I like to see questions that have a solution. I don’t see many of those anymore.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I view details as having a conversation. Sometimes you don’t exactly want an “answer” but rather an opportunity to discuss so you can formulate a conclusion in your own mind.

notdan's avatar

I agree with user johnpowell. Asking questions in a solution-oriented way is, obviously, the best way to get a solution. Frame a problem. The quality of the answers you receive is a reflection of the quality of the question / problem presented.

wundayatta's avatar

Just about all of my questions are asking people to share experience. Unless I’m being lazy, I’m not big on answers of the right or wrong sort. I’ve got Google for that. So I do put in an example from my own experience to show what I’m looking for. I am interested in exploring many aspects of a subject, so I hope to both give people latitude and constrain them to my area of interest.

Writing details, for me, is sometimes about telling a story. I hope people will read them because they are interesting or fun to read.

I’m not all that uncomfortable with long details, but lately I’ve been writing even longer ones. It feels different—and I can’t put my finger on an explanation for why it’s been happening. I guess I’ve been trying to make the questions more open-ended… no, that’s not quite right… I guess it’s that I want to encourage more people to get into it and explore the topic with me via their own stories and I fear that in doing that, I’ve actually been doing the opposite: making it so intricate that no one knows where I want them to go.

Of course, everyone is free to answer as they please, and no one has to go where I want them to, and I don’t want to “guide” anyone. I just want to encourage. In “encouraging” I’m afraid I lose people because it takes so much detail to “encourage.” But I don’t know if I can do it with less. Still, people’s idea about how to do that are interesting.

seazen's avatar

I agree with @augustlan and I love reading the details of @wundayatta ‘s questions.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@wundayatta Nah, when I get bored I just stop reading and answer it already ;)

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