Do you feel (or your readers) feel as though your stories drag on too long? Do you struggle getting to the point of the story? Story length is a function of focus. When you (or your editor or teacher) has a keen understanding of the what the story is about, it will be easier to revise your work.
Here are some approaches to help ensure that every word counts.
- Discuss the scope of your story early in the process with a teacher or editor.
- Cut any elements that do not advance the focus of the story.
- Mark passages that could be trimmed in a space crunch. Consider cutting them yourself.
- Choose an appropriate shorter form or genre. Don’t write an epic when you need a sonnet.
- Begin the story as close to the end of the narrative line as possible.
- Prune the big limbs, then shake out the dead leaves.
- Negotiate a length and then stick to it.
- Practice cutting 10 percent, even 20 percent, of any draft you think is “finished.”
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