Wordness

Recently I turned to a short story I’d written eight years ago. Even by my own measurements it was a long short story, even approaching novella territory. But I’d always liked it.

Looking at the manuscript eight years down the line, I couldn’t help noticing all the words in that thing.

I decided to see if I could sweat the story down to fighting weight. After three days, my revisions had reduced the story by a full half without losing any of the actual story (at least, without losing any of the story that belonged in the story).

I’ve also noticed that over the course of writing four novels, from Dirt through The Cleanup, each book has taken longer to write, but has ended up with fewer words in it, than the last. 

I love the fact the Elmore Leonard’s new book on writing is only 96 pages long.

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2 responses to “Wordness

  1. I did the same thing with a short story – mine’s still sitting in my computer but it was a great exercise in self-editing.

    Hmm. My novels are getting longer. Should I be afraid I’ll start churning out Michener length books?

  2. Hey, it seems to work for Michener.

    Also, McMurtry’s LONESOME DOVE has more words in it than all of my novels put together, and I wouldn’t want to see any of those words deleted.

    And you make all your words work for their supper, Lori.

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