Monday, January 7, 2013

Flabby Stories - My Word Loss Journey

I have a short story that after several drafts, weighs in at an obese 4700 words. I want to submit it to a mag that has a firm upper limit of 3500 words (fascists). This is a daunting challenge. We need to lose 1200 words. That's 25% of the story. That's not just putting your head on the chopping block, but your shoulders and arms too.

Except it's not the head, shoulders and arms that need to come off. Those are useful parts with a purpose. So are legs and torsos. Cutting them off isn't a healthy way to reach one's goal weight. With that in mind, I've decided to put my story on a strict cabbage-water diet and reduce at the cellular level.

Cue dramatic editing montage with black coffee, crumpled papers, feral children, overturned whiskey tumbler, 3am crying jag etc.

The results so far...

Fatty adverbs, incinerated
Bloated dialogue, deflated
Indulgent similes, jettisoned
Even the leanest adjectives have gone into hiding (I suspect the spleen is aiding these refugees)

In all, we've metabolized 850 words. My story is in ketosis, feeding off its own meat. We fit into our size 6 jeggings. But we're still overcount by 350 words. It's time to introduce exercise. Deep knee bends, sit ups, and running in a hefty bag at high noon. We're going to turn up the thermostat.

If the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn*. Even those last 350 words.

Stay-tuned for the 'after' photo.

*Please don't burn books. Book-burning bad.

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