Who knew word count tightens & excitens your writing?

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”~Anthony Robbins, American author

Sing along with me, folks: Pro-crastin-a-a-ation’s making me wait.

I waited until the last days to compile my entries for the Rochester Writers’ 2016 Summer Writing Contest. After all, this will be easy: cut n’ paste and all done. Boom!

I was unbelievably over word count.

I tightened my original 136-word micro fiction to 84 words. I forgot how vibrant words have to be to do double duty. Does “dim” refer to the lighting in the room or the main character’s attitude? Is “crinkle” a sound or does it refer to the second character’s facial features? Read what you will out of those words.

My two entries in the First Page of Novel category were 356 and 837 words, respectively. How the h-e-double-hockey-sticks was I going to cut those down? All of my words were vital to conveying the scene. How could I destroy my precious baby and still entice the reader?

I hadn’t touched these unpublished stories in months, and it amazed me how much more exciting they were when the fluffy bunnies of words were removed. I didn’t need to describe the details of the contents of a letter. One brief conversation exchange summed everything up without repeating it in ho-hum humdrum. The character in my second story didn’t need to say over and over how annoyed she was with this other person. One offhand comment, one brush of body language and one related thought exposed my character’s feelings in tight, tense text. Both entries came in at exactly 244 words.

Hey, I’m pretty good at this writing thing.

Seeing the possibilities of what these stories can become, I’m excited and reinvigorated with them. Have you experienced this? I’m amazed as much as I want to palm-slap my forehead duh. Faced with that mandatory word count, I made all my stories dance with excitement. Here’s trusting the judges to recognize my writing brilliance when they read it. I’ll let you know in October.

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2 Responses to Who knew word count tightens & excitens your writing?

  1. Joanna Lynn says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I have entered a few contests with word count limits and it DEFINITELY made my stories better before I submitted them. It’s amazing how when tuu’re writing something you just know how necessary all you’re putting into the story is. Then you edit it and they don’t seem quite so necessary anymore.

    • Amen to that! I’m considering keeping the opening tight as it is, although there’s one element I feel is important to the story that “should” be included. Important to the story; not important to the word count contest. If I add it, for sure I’ll approach it like I did with the contest: short and poignant.

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