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How to write to a word count - journalism


You've completed your story, and you're appealing happy with it. The plot is gripping, the typescript are lively, and the pace zooms along. Great! You've done it!

Then. . . you count words.

It can't be! How can your short story be so far over the word count? The guidelines say '900 words' - and your story is (eeek!) about 1460.

1460! That's more than half as much again. There's no way you can cut your story by a third, you choose gloomily. It will be ruined!

But. . . will it?

I've in print many short stories and articles over the years. At first, it was torture to cut them to the right size. I always, at all times wrote many more words than asked for. If I sought to sell, I had no amount - I had to cut.

And guess what? When I look back at those stories (yeah, yeah, with the advantage of hindsight - it's a brilliant thing) I can now see that in approximately every case, they benefited from the surgery. Those that didn't certainly ought to have been books - the plot was just too 'big' for a short story.

Some Tips On Cutting

If your story is not too far out of the word count, you can in all probability cut it down by pruning a few words here and a decree there. That's easy. Any person can do that. But if you're 50% or more over the count, then it's time for more radical measures.

1. Cut paragraphs.

Look for whole paragraphs that can be each eliminated generally or be swapped for one vivid sentence. Do you need all that description? Can you use one or two authoritative words that will do magic tricks up the same impression?

2. Shorten transitions.

Rather than attractive three sentences to describe how your appeal moved all through time or space, use phrases like 'The next day. . . ' or 'An hour later. . . ' or 'On the other side of town. . . '. Zip all the way through a number of days or weeks by reduction up the time frame: "By Wednesday Jane was sure a little was going on. On Thursday she certain to take action. Friday saw her boarding the train for Sydney. "

3. Cut characters.

Do you need every creature in your story? Can you tell it using three font as a replacement for of four, or two lettering as a replacement for of three? See if you can give some of the lines to a big name else to speak, or cut some of the battle along with one of the characters.

4. Simplify the plot.

Short-short stories (say up to 1200 words) are akin to inscription a joke. There's a brief beginning that sets the scene, a steady build-up, and then the punch line (or a quick wrap-up). Don't try to describe too much about what happened ahead of the story opened, or waste words on the setting. Go for emotion moderately than description.

5. Amends the balance.

In a vast digit of the short stories I see, too much time is spent on the introduction. You may be 'writing by hand into the story' - that is, amplification the achievement to manually as well as the reader. Ask yourself: "what is this story about? When does the main battle happen? Am I benevolent it the space it needs?" Time after time, I've seen a whole page (250 words) of a 900-word short story allocated to location the scene. By the time the essayist gets to the action, the word count is by now half used up.

Read all the way through that first page. Can you ditch most of it? Often it's achievable to give any compulsory backdrop via dialogue when the accomplishment starts. You might be amazed to find out how much you can leave out. (This was one of my major failings when I ongoing journalism short stories - I took too long to get to the point!)

Some Tips on Addition Words

The main thing to avoid when you have to become more intense your word count is 'padding'. Readers at all times know when a story has been padded - the accomplishment goes nowhere. Scenes of avoidable dialogue confusion up the story; boring depiction adds pages, and typeset spend far too much time deliberation over things. Dull, dull, dull.

Make sure that the whole lot you add to your story builds the tension, adds new plot wrinkles, or fleshes out your characters. The whole thing must move your story forward. If it doesn't - toss it out!

To add extent (and depth) to your story devoid of padding:

1. Add a new sub-plot.

This is one of the easiest ways to add to the duration of a story. Quite often, you'll find that the seeds of a new subplot are previously there, ready to sprout. For example: consider you have one of your typescript tracking down a suspect. In the earliest story, your appeal located this anyone comparatively by a long way - and was able to eliminate him/her. This is where you can add a twist: make that believe harder to find. Give the be suspicious of a story of their own - one that complicates the main plot. This is just one example. Have a brainstorming assembly and work out a good sub-plot.

2. Add a new character.

Make sure this atmosphere is not just window-dressing. Give them a background; make them important to the main plot. Have a bit of fun with this. Can you conceive a big shot especially outrageous who will add life and humour to your story? Or a certainly base villain?

3. Add one or two complications to an offered plot or sub-plot.

Give the main charm a few extra hurdles ahead of he/she reaches the prize; make one of the creative lettering more uncooperative; give the main charm a cloak-and-dagger everyplace in his/her past.

You can, of course, mix up or add all of the above. One may be a sufficient amount for a few thousand words, but if you need more, then all three could combine!

It's a challenge to write to a word count, whether you're necessary to add words or cut them. Use these few down-to-earth tips and you'll find the task a lot easier.

Marg McAlister has available magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales inscription and web content. She has in black and white 5 detachment instruction courses on writing, and her online help for writers is common all over the world. Sign up for her accepted writers' tipsheet at http://www. writing4success. com/

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