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Exercise #890

Exercise #890: Craft
Posted  3/5/21

It seems so hard to find the extra words in our own work. The flow of a story as I write it feels like history to me and I have a lot of trouble revising, rewriting and most of all, removing chunks of my work. Sometimes, though, we have a market we’re aiming for, and that market has a word limit. Agonizing though it may be, we need to trim our tale down to fit the guidelines.

For today’s exercise, pick a basic plotline, set a timer for ten minutes, and freewrite for that time. Let your mind go crazy about your chosen plot. No edits, no barriers, no inner critique. The goal here is WORDS. Lots of them. For this pass, you want as many words as you can get, but in order to have enough to work with, aim for two thousand. It’s a lot, I know, especially in that amount of time. Can’t do it? Set a longer timer, or do several rounds, and turn off your inside editor.

When you’ve got your massive, messy, multi-track first round, work on a revision. Edit it down to the plot it fits best (note this may not be the one you originally chose and that’s fine). Add details to flesh out your characters. Remove superfluous characters, items, plot meanderings. Add plot points as necessary. Firm up your ending. The goal here is 1200 words or less. This is your first piece and you will post it in your SUB.

When you’ve got that, revise it again. Trim off all the fat you can. Reword to use less of them. Keep your plot, keep your characters, keep your ending. All else is fluid, and getting to those three has some wiggle room, too. The goal here is 500 words or less. This is your edited piece and you will post it in your SUB.

For your SUB, post, in order, in the same email, your first piece, your edited piece, and (if you want) any thoughts you had about the process or what you learned.

Critiquers, in addition to a technical critique, you might consider the following questions:
     * Did this piece help you as a writer? Why or why not?
     * Could you relate to it? Why or why not?
     * If you’re up for a challenge, see if you can find 10 to 15 more words to cut from the edited piece, without losing the original intent.

Word limit: 1200 first piece, 500 edited piece, 500 commentary
Please use the subject line
       SUB: Exercise #890/yourname

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