Thursday, May 26, 2011

On Writing Short Stories - Part 1

In the process of learning to write short-stories I have learned – or, perhaps, relearned – that I have a tendency to be verbose.  I think it is partially instinctive, as I have always had a love for completeness.  It is not enough to know the bones of the story: I want to know what they ate and how they made paint or glue or how their language evolved, and what happened in the places they left behind.  The trick that I am starting to learn is that all of that can be explored, but the story is the network of moments within it that fit together in one tight, sleek shape.  I hope that in time I will be able to shorten the process – rather than writing the 20,000 word version, then the 12,000, then the 9,000 and then finally the 7,500, I will be able to hold the 20,000 version in my head while I write the 9,000 version and then edit it down.

The other reason I tend toward wordiness is from academic writing.  Somehow, when I was receiving my training, there was much more emphasis on achieving the page number than on saying everything that needs to be said elegantly and succinctly.  In retrospect I wish I had had a teacher who was skilled in teaching how to define a topic that is the right size for that 25 page paper while being concise.  I have had a lot of good teachers over the years, but as I think about it, very few good writing teachers.

At any rate, I am rewriting and editing five stories at the moment.  While I am nearly done with Tav’uran, I have decided that I am not going to start the next country until I have at least two, if not three, of the current stories polished up to the point I feel I can start submitting them for publication.

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