Nipping and Tucking

Last week, I had to write three short writing samples: 500 words of creative nonfiction, 400 words of literary criticism, and (because there are people who think oxymora are sexy, I also had to come up with) 300 words of original derivative fiction. By the time my muse found endings for the three pieces, I was over 390 words too chunky.

Trimming a piece of writing is about as easy as melting extra weight off of your flesh and bones. Bringing the nonfiction and literary criticism down to the desired word count wasn’t difficult. I just found different ways to say the same things, and tightened up my ideas. Getting a fictional scene into shape takes a bit more work. There are decisions to be made (What must stay in the story? What’s there just because my writer’s heart thought it was cute? What can be changed completely? What characters need to be killed out of existence?)

I reread “Thorn in Red,” the original derivative fictional piece, with the above questions (and a few others) in mind. I discovered that the setting was pure indulgence (the characters didn’t have to be in the exotic place I originally put them in); I wrote a character who added mayhem to the conflict (but the story didn’t need her, she was just wicked fun); there was a baking scene that helped with the characterization and tone (yet, the cooking took too long, and I could show the reader the same things it conveyed in a less word-consuming way).

After the nipping and tucking, “Thorn in Red” reads just right. The focus is on the characters and conflict, not  on the formerly dreamy setting. And the event feels more real (methinks ;-)

How do you trim your writing, or shape your art to make it feel just right, my Wicked Luvs?  
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10 comments:

  1. I don't trim my writing, as I don't really have them. First, I think, you shall decide if you write for audience or for yourself, because audience might not get what you say in just three words, and might need a background of an event. OR opposite, not to overload your writing with words. Did I say something meaningful?i need to make up my thoughts at times.properly.
    I like reading about your writer's way... :) keep it up, Magaly!

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    1. Trying to figure out just what (how much) to put in your writing is another difficult thing. Sometimes a tale makes complete sense in our heads, but when someone else reads it, he or she can't tell what we are talking about. So yes, I agree.

      Glad you like my ramblings about writing ;-)

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    2. Rambling and frolicking.. :) Love these words!
      Choosing proper words, meaningful sentences is a difficult task, but I am sure you will do it! ;)

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    3. I see we share the love for words that sound and feel like what they mean. That's the reason why I like words like "pliable, cacophony, thump, rumpus, thunder..." and so on ;-)

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    4. Yummy words! and they mean what they are.. I love the language!

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    5. Let's eat them all up ;-D

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  2. How do I shape my art, to make it just right? That's a hard question! I guess I just know in my heart, when it's done ;o)

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    1. The heart is a very good artist ;-)

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  3. In some ways I don't trim my work down, in some ways I do. I have taken to working on larger sheets of paper and then framing the dimensions/borders in around the semi finished work. Sometimes for the sake of easy framing now though I'll trim a bit at one or both edges to get more conventional measurements. In another way I'm also trying to figure out if the drawing I haven't finished is, unfinished but resolved or just unresolved and unfinished. I'll be trying to figure that out today :)

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    1. I understand completely. There are times when I stare at a piece and wonder if the story isn't already finished, and my nipping will not tighten it up, but change it instead. And then, like you, other times I have to change them anyway because the powers that be (the client lol) needs a particular length or style. The process is always enlightening. And many times, it's fun, too ;-D

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