Why over-describing ruins a story

That’s why an author can describe a room using one well-chosen detail, and it doesn’t feel like anything’s missing. Because nothing’s missing.

There is a legendary story (origin unknown — often attributed to Hemingway) about a discussion some writers were having about short stories. Specifically: how short can a short story really be?

In the legend, Hemingway says he can write a story in six words. His companions are shocked. They wager Hemingway that he can’t do it.

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In 5 years, you’ll be wrong

We learn that a habit takes on average 66 days to form, that competence is a powerful intrinsic motivator, that people who have more 2-hour dinners with friends live longer, that adding “because” to an e-mail request makes it doubly likely to be granted, and that the most passionate employees are not those who “followed their passion” into a position but instead those who stuck around long enough to get good at what they do.

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Glose, a social e-reader

I read 95% physical books, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be buying from Glose’s bookstore. But when I do want to read an ebook, Glose may just have the edge on Kindle.

The reason? Amazon keeps Kindle locked down like Fort Knox. When I make highlights and take notes on a book in my Kindle, it’s hard to get that data out so I can do useful stuff with it.

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The greatest startup of the 20th century

If Norris and Gettler were the Jobs and Wozniak of their time, then the New York City medical examiner’s office was one of the greatest startups of all-time. It helped pioneer a whole field, forensic toxicology, despite nobody believing in it or understanding it, and it did so on a shoestring budget. It also created the political and cultural atmosphere that led to the eradication of poisons from daily-use products, the banishment of lethal intoxicants like lead and radium from American factories, and the granting of real power to the FDA.

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Living on a knife’s edge

The sleeping-sickness, actually a viral disease called encephalitis lethargica, struck no two patients in exactly the same way — this baffled the medical community. Many sufferers slipped in to irreversible comas, while others became so aroused that they died of insomnia. Those who didn’t die tended to fall gradually into a deep Parkinsonism, especially of the “frozen” variety, and had to be institutionalized. Sacks epitomizes their dreadful state with a quote from Donne: “As Sicknes is the greatest misery, so the greatest misery of sicknes, is solitude… Solitude is a torment which is not threatened in hell itselfe.”

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