Having a disorganised brain I will often need to create order from chaos. I ramble enough when creating a coherent vocal thought so when it comes to writing I need the crutch of a good bullet list to make a point rather than a stream of elegant prose.
As a result I enjoy writing lists. Not the kind I should be using to be more productive at work, that makes me sad to see the tasks I need to complete, but the lists you’d make in the pub. The kind where you rank the best haircuts in SciFi (Mal Reynolds) or the most beautiful F1 car (the Ferrari 156).
The reason lists are great are:
- It makes each point stand alone.
- You don’t have to write a whole paragraph.
- You can say lots of things without the need for filler.
- It gives what you are saying a false sense of authority.
I like lists so much that a good chunk of my posts are lists, just take a look at this wonderful selection of my list of lists:
- Wear sunscreen – a list of advice to live a better life
- Tough mother – how father’s are ‘terrible’ and should be whipped into shape
- Daily Schedule – how my life is one long list of things to do
- Those Bachelor Days – All the things I can no longer do now I’m married
- 50 things a geek should know – an assessment of the key pop culture references you should be aware of
Despite being a Pinaciphile (try Googling it…) the liberal use of UL and LI tags are not without their problems:
- Creating order gives a false sense of ranking.
- When writing a list sometimes you have:
- Short points
- Really long points that require a lot of explanation and as a result end up going over two lines and making the list look messy, as well as making the shorter points look less succinct and more like lazy writing.
- The use of sub-bullet points.
I especially like short lists, normally of five or ten, because I then get to use my fingers to illustrate the points I am making. It is also why my favourite times table are the nines.
A list allows you to think about any subject without getting boring (I hope) and explains the success of these websites:
- That annoying Outbrain link on every News website.
The only problem is that you have to find more an more obscure things to write lists about (like 27 hamburgers you must eat in September in bars with blue doors in Birmingham). This is why In my drafts I have posts like:
What Les Miserables the movie taught me:
- No one in France had heard of a ‘Wanted’ poster.
- Escape plans should consist of telling people where you are going.
- Anne Hathaway with short hair, red eyes and a runny nose is still on my ‘would’ list.
- Telling your wife this is not a good idea.
- Your wife is allowed to swoon over Marius and that’s Equalitie.
My top post-nuclear dystopias:
- The Fallout universe.
- Beneath a Steel Sky.
- Battlestar Galactica.
- A boy and his dog.
- Any end game on Civilization.
Things that make the British British:
- The tea interval at the first test of the summer at Lord’s.
- The last night of the Proms.
- The FA Cup.
- The House of Lords.
- The respect and lack of respect to those in power.
The greatest part about being a list writer is that you can just keep going until you run out of points at which point you have the following options on how to finish:
- Just stop