Tag Archives: conciseness

The Levity of Brevity

[Time to kick it old school…yeeeah boyee!] Just found out my first attempt at writing a Nanoism is scheduled to publish in July.  A Nanoism is microfiction based on Twitter-length stories—that’s right, up to 140 characters.  Microfiction is a trend relatively new to me, but one that writer Milo James Fowler (In Media Res blog), utilizes as a means of keeping his creativity flowing during and between writing stories—one of his submissions (75-words only) was recently published at Paragraph Planet.  And now I’m appreciating it as a tool for practicing how to pare down.

I can dash off a 10-20 page essay with relative ease, but it was back in grad school when I was asked to write only 2-3 pages comparing/contrasting 3 works of fiction that I suffered my first true writer’s block.  The notes I’d taken in preparation weren’t even that succinct, so just when I felt my extensive planning would make the writing a cinch, trying to pull it all together within that parameter had me seriously contemplating just dropping out of a $1,500 class (non-refundable by that time, of course. Ouch.).

“Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.”  – Cicero

Conciseness is an art.  Truly.  Go figure that it was probably my first career in business that ultimately saw me through that essay—though it sucked the creative soul out of writing, it taught me a thing or two about keeping it brief and direct, and…well…any of you who read my stuff here will see that that particular skill has by now gone to the wayside…gah, I recently sent off a guest post weighing in at just under 2,000 words (scheduled for Real Bloggers United on July 17th), which has me contemplating the value of getting to the point faster.

“Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in few words.”
–  Bible, Ecclesiasticus

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Admittedly, one of the factors that initially delayed me in writing my manuscript’s ending was word count.  At 90,000, I’d estimated I was about three-quarters through when a concerned author told me that’s the length my entire work should be as a newbie.  So thinking about both the tremendous hacking I was going to have to do in addition to still writing said ending sent me into panic, which I’ve only just recently released.  Basically, I’ve adopted the mindset that I need to just let myself carry the story out freely and deal with the editing afterwards, which has helped, though the inevitable still hovers over my head like the guillotine blade I’ll need to use on my text, the executioner of my own words 😦

This all being said, what I have trimmed out so far has clearly strengthened the story, just as my sage advisers always said it would, so I do trust in that.  And as I look at bits I’ve scribbled along the way and always assumed would have a place in my book, I understand now that if they didn’t meld in naturally by this point, to attempt to include them now would be about as thrilling to me as gouging a funnel down a duck’s neck to make myself foie gras.  I think instead I’ll measure out those grains for a less fatty entree or side dish in future meals…

So.  I’ve lapsed on updating this blog until today because I have indeed been cranking on my ending as well as going back to the beginning to ensure there’s balance—and, in doing so, I can see how my writing has evolved over the course of this long project…how my sentences were much longer and more complex, my descriptions more frequent…it seems I’ve since learned a wee bit more about the art of condensing, so may need to retroactively apply that to those opening chapters so the overall work can shed that fat and really flex its muscles.

“It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.”  – Robert Southey

Huh.  I thought I’d be brief with this post.  Oh, the irony.

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