the beauty in brevity

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There is something I love about the freedom in a short story. There is no obligation to begin at the beginning, in fact it is sometimes more fun to jump in somewhere in the middle.

Short stories ask more skill of us authors, in some ways, than a full length novel. There is the challenge of brevity, which is a thing I often struggle with. If you have five thousand words to tell the tale, each of those words becomes important. Your characters need to be able to convey not just story, but personality and point of view quickly, but without making your reader feel rushed.

Often when I’m working on a short story, I throw words on the page to start, far more words than necessary and often imprecisely used. Then I use my first edit pass to tighten up the language, replace the imprecise with something more fitting. I boil down descriptions to the best words. I render ten words down to three or four.

All the while, I’m whittling away at not just the word count, but at the story itself, distilling it down to a more perfect form. Think of it as a block of stone. We know that there is a work of art inside of it, but we have to work to chip away the parts that obscure it.

There are a bunch of short stories on my hard drive in some state of doneness, some begun for a specific project, others just to get the words out of my head. Maybe I’ll consider an anthology of these works at some point, but for now, I am off to finish polishing and buffing one for this year’s Sirens anthology.

Happy Saturday, Readers! I hope the coffee is good, the sun is shining and your day is filled with kindness.

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

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