Sunday, April 15, 2012

Write It Short And Sweet

When I started writing fifteen years ago, I concentrated on short stories. I belonged to a writing group that wrote and read their stories aloud twice a month. The leader of the group gave us a subject,  sometimes a picture or the names of three or four objects to include in our writing. I remember one in particular, "a rocking chair, a china cup and ballet slippers." The creative stories the group wrote and read all included those words, but each one was completely different.

Needless to say, I have a file folder full of my tales. As the group grew, we found we had to limit our words due to a time limit. While the original stories were 1500 to 2000 words, we eventually cut them to 600 or less to give everyone a chance to read their stories.


I mention this because trimming your work makes you choose only the important words and in the end, the story becomes more powerful. In my critique group, I circle the 'was' words in blue, the 'ly' words in red and 'ing' in green. It's not because I don't want the group to use those words, but to point out how many they include and how they can eliminate weak adverbs and still make their stories interesting. 


"He was walking quickly to the car," can be said: "He rushed to the car." Of course, in longer novels, you'd want to show that instead of telling. 

Poetry is another genre that requires choosing the correct and powerful words. I lead a, "Memoir, Creative Writing, Poetry," group once a month. Monday, we are fortunate to have Nevada's Senior Poet Laureate, Raynette Eitel, to give a presentation. She is wonderful with words and rhythm. I'm sure my group will learn a lot even if they don't write poetry. I can't write it, but I love to listen, especially to Raynette's thought provoking poems. I have three of her books and treasure them.


I challenge you to look at any newspaper heading or even an advertisement and write a short story with a beginning, middle conflict and ending in 500 words or less. It will help your writing, and you'll have fun creating an interesting piece of Flash Fiction. As an aside, there are many 
e-zines on the internet who publish Flash Fiction.


Keep writing. Joyce      

23 comments:

  1. Short stories are great and that's an excellent idea for a writing exercise. My forte is novels and scripts though I did win a short story contest a few years back! I'll add that script writing also helps you learn to condense your writing. Learning to cut & trim is paramount for any writer to learn.

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  2. Hi Joyce.
    Your reviews are great. Congratulations. My newest release, Ghostly Justice, is up on Amazon but they haven't put the reviews up yet, but they are on the Black Opal Books and my own website, www.bevirwin.com.
    I 'liked' your book.

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    1. Thanks, I'll check out your website. Ghostly Justice sounds like an intriguing title. Joyce

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  3. Great blog my friend We join you, join us back too!for favor lets make it happen here my goal is to help other blogger to connect each other past no more lonely blogs follow each other see my site in WP.look for your self at my side bar. more power to your blog .

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  4. Hi Joyce, I continue to enjoy you books and your informative tips on writing. I'm working on getting my Ebook novel "Rent A Muse" placed on other sites besides Amazon and B&N.

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  5. Joyce,
    You have a great looking site! Your latest post was very helpful. May I share it with my children's critique group? I'm talking about the idea you had about writing a story with 3 or 4 chosen items in it.

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    1. Deb, of course you can use it. If you need any additional information, contact me. Joyce

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  6. Joyce,

    Don't think I could write anything in only 500 words. In writing historical fiction. I'd just be getting started. Good blog.

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    1. Gwyn. I hear you. The word count on my novels usually run between 75 and 85 thousand. I use this exercise both in my critique class and the creative writing group. I helps new writers consider the words they select. Keep writing. Joyce

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  7. Fascinating. That's a great tip, Joyce!

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    1. Currently only writing a novella to follow up my first 2, but focusing on ones that are 120k+ but this is definitely something that could be used at any time, to keep things in check

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    2. Casey, I try to come up with different exercises for my writing groups. This one always produces good results. Joyce

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  8. Excellent idea Joyce. I use the same formula in my writing group and we have one girl who does mostly pictures--they speak for her and she is a marvelous addition to our group...her writing wastes no words, but her pictures tell it all.
    http://www.billieawilliams.com
    Mystery Suspense Author, Speaker, Teacher

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    1. Billie, I just visited your web page. You have a wealth of information. I'll certainly pass it on. Joyce

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  9. Hi, Joyce,

    Great to meet you, and thanks for inviting me to take a look at your blog. How right you are about trimming one's work--a hard but necessary action. Helpful post.

    Pop over to my blog if you've the time. Am now following you, btw.

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  10. Hi Joyce,

    I think your trimming tips make perfect sense. I write at novel length, but have published 3 short stories because the discipline involved in creating a short story carries over to my longer works. I'm following you and I'm sure I'll continue to enjoy your posts.

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  11. Hi Joyce,
    You know when i was reading that it reminded me of my beginnings. After i survived a deadly desease, i started to write short stories. I even send them to several competitions. I never got the first price but withe very story i have send in a got very good comments. These inspired me to go on. One of the short stories was about Matica and Talon. And there it came to me, that i could write much much more about her and her beloved Condor. Even start from the beginning, not only start when Talon was alsready borne and flew.

    Well, Joyce, I just follow you and wrote a comment on your story. I hoep you will follow me as well and write a comment as well on my Blogspot. See you there.

    http://maticatalon.blogspot.com.au/

    Have a wonderful day
    Gigi

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  12. And now i am writing the Talon series, 3 Books are published and i am writing on the fourth. Hopefully it will be finish by the end of the year.

    See at my blog, where to get them and what they are about. and read the interview by Margot Finke.

    Hope to see you on my Blog.

    Gigi

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  13. I am not a writer bu I thought it was interesting how to cut the story down by leaving out weak adverbs and how you colored coded them. Very clever.
    I admire people have a talent for writing and enjoying reading the books.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I appreciate the comments. Joyce

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  14. I agree with you about using the right words. I have done a couple years of newspaper article writing, and it was great practice in learning to using only the most powerful and descriptive words possible, since there was usually a word count limit.

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    1. Katie, Writing newspaper articles is a great background for writing fiction. Thanks for your comment. Joyce

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  15. Hi Joyce,

    Hopped over here from LinkedIn. Been enjoying reading your blog.

    Cynthia Harris

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