Apparently, it's no longer the first chapter, not even the first page - a writer's chances to grab attention of a reader dwindled to 300 words (see James McCreet's article in October Writing Magazine). Editors want 250 words queries (see Query Shark), publishers - lots of 'white space' on the page, marketers - 20seconds sound bites.
The web shatters focus and rewires our brain, writes Nicolas Carr in Wired.
As our attention span has shrunk in time to allow expansion in space. It's all that TV watching, Web surfing and texting at the same time. An average Brit can cram 8 hrs and 48 minutes of media consumption daily into just 7 hours. Young peope are even better: 9,5 hrs into 6,5!
But dealing with diffused audience comes at a price - you may overlook a really important piece of information. This article in NYT talks about the downsides of being Always On, but I haven't finished it - it's just too long.
Natalie Whipple advises that 'blog posts shouldn't get too long' to improve the blog readability.
I go by an old rule Do not do to other as you would not have them do to you.
Ah, and don't add too many links - they increase cognitive overload and disorientation.
So I have 300 words to save the world that I put in danger in the first line. If I fail the test, my reader will never finish the story, and my world will never get saved.
I'd better get back to writing.