Twitter and Writing: “Half as Long”

There is a movie I, and any fly fisherman, love called “A River Runs Through It“. It features Brat Pitt, Craig Sheffer and Tom Skerritt and is a movie about the misspent youth of two boys, growing up in rural Montana and their love of fishing.


The movie shows sweeping shots of the majestic landscape of Montana, includes many exhilarating scenes of fishing and one of a rafting adventure any young boy would love and any parent would cringe at, but more importantly it has a great lesson on Twitter and writing.


Tom Skerritt plays a Presbyterian minister who home schools his two boys. His focus is on reading and writing and it is in his teaching of writing that we find out a Twitter lesson… “Half as long”.



In order for the boys to get out and go fishing they need to write and rewrite their assignments to be as concise and to the point as possible. They need to think about what it is they want to say and how best to convey that message, to be focused and to the point. This is a lesson we can all learn and apply to Twitter.



Now, I understand that this can often be frustrating. I am writing this post after responding to a friend about that very issue, but Twitter is what Twitter is and the character limit is part of that.


Those of you using Twitter in the classroom or as a communications tool for your institutions need to come to grips with what Twitter is and isn’t. The required brevity is both a blessing and a curse, but it is the nature of the beast.


When you think about your writing think about, “Half as long”.


What can I do make my message more compact? The use of the ampersand. The shorthand “w/” for with. Using numeric numbers rather than writing them out.


This may not be perfect English. It is not always grammatically correct, but when you are using a tool you need to understand its strengths and weaknesses and use that tool where and how appropriate.


William Stites

William Stites

Director of Technology at Montclair Kimberley Academy

Director of Technology for Montclair Kimberley Academy (, "Blogger in Chief" for, consultant for Educational Collaborators, husband and father of two crazy boys. All that and still trying to find time to write and share as much as I can with you here and at