Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saying less is saying more

  I've had a fabulous learning experience this week. I had to submit a short story of around 700 words, so I decided to convert a specific story of 2000 words into a piece of flash fiction (700 words). Does it sound crazy? I had a precious opportunity that I did not want to waste, and I considered this was the right story to do that. (I am not going into details over this because it is not the purpose of this blog entry).
   I wasn't sure it would work out. It did. Tightening this short story was an enlightening experience. I was able to enhance the emotional intensity of the piece. I made it more powerful. In the ruthless process of trimming, I was able to see how by cutting down sentences and details I made relevant pieces of information stand out. I also came to the realization that there was some clutter that did not need to be there. I spotted pieces where I had been  over-telling.
  I read it aloud many times because I care about the musicality of what I craft. (Reading aloud is always part of my editing process).
 Have you ever tried converting a short story into a piece of flash fiction? If you haven't, try so. Just for the fun of it. You will learn a lot about the power of saying less and expressing more.

14 comments:

  1. Yes, I have done just that. You can't do it with every story, but when it works, I think it's because the story was meant to be a flash in the first place. Congratulations on how you trimmed yours. I'll bet it's a real winner. Good luck on your submission.

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  2. Thanks Elizabeth. I totally agree with you. We can't do it with every story.

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  3. My first writing success started out more than 1000 pages. I whittled it down to 108 pages, and it took off. Great advice!

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  4. I'm doing the same with my novel. I have to cut all the extra stuff, since I'm naturally verbose.

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  5. JJ: It's good to learn about your writing success. Nice job!
    Jay Noel, welcome! I wish you the best of luck with your novel.

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  6. What a great experience! I've had moments where I've realized the same thing-- shorter is almost ALWAYS better. It has much more emotional punch when we can convey something in a few words instead of a lot of them.

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    1. Thanks, Shallee. Yes, I know what you mean.

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  7. Sounds like a useful exercise. I tend to use more words than I need to and it's usually on the edit that I see how I've gone overboard. When I edit I cut all the fat.

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    1. I always do that to. I end up cutting off a lot because when I write I let everything out.

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  8. I haven't done anything quite that drastic, but I do consider it a fantastic day of editing if I cut a good quarter of my words. ;) However, the faster I write my first draft, the more I need to flesh out the story during subsequent edits, so there's a lot to take into account! I'm completely with you on the fact that reading out loud is absolutely essential, too.

    ~Ashlee
    http://ashleesch.com
    http://theDragonsHoard.bigcartel.com

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    1. Yes, Ashlee. This was a story I had edited before, and I knew I could try something different with it, so I still have my old version and I could achieve something intermediate if I wanted to.

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  9. Replies
    1. Thanks, Summer. It's nice to know that you find it helpful.

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