Sunday, 2 September 2007

How Tight Do You Write?

I can often cut a BCer's story by 50% but my own stuff starts out much tighter (he said).

But two recent comps demanded specific word-counts. I reduced one "FINISHED" 35660-word stroy to 2,995 and a 2250 story to 1500. Both those stories I was happy with before the cut, but I now think they are improved.

It's a good exercise when a story has been tightened well enough to send out to look again and ask just how few words could this story be told in. Sometimes a much-tightened story still feels like the same story only tighter, but sometimes the new, slimmer piece feels like a fresh story.

Years ago, a raw writer I had a story "Postcards From Balloonland" which was a monster 5,800 words. I trimmed it to 4,999 and made the last 150 in The Ian St James Awards but then Cosmo had a comp and I reduced that 5K to 1,999 words (TOO stripped out IMO).

I then "let-out" the 1,999 words to 2,150, won $1,000 and published the story 4/5 more times.

More or less (but this isn't absolute) if you can say the same thing in less words, the short version will have more power and resonate more.


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