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Cut the Fluff

June 10, 2017 by in category Charmed Writer tagged as , , with 5 and 0
Home > Columns > Charmed Writer > Cut the Fluff

 

Write short!

While I consider myself the Queen of Run-On Sentences, because I tend to write the way I talk…in run on sentences, I also tend to write very lean. I know, that may seem contradictory, but it’s true. While author friends are trying to bring their word counts down, cut description and wordiness, I find myself short of my word count goals by as much as 20,000 words. Not a small number. And, fiction editors and critique readers tell me that sometimes I need MORE description.

I’m sure this comes from my non-fiction background. When I wrote magazine articles, I generally had a word count goal around 2,000 words. While each word should count in everything you write, when you’re this limited, each counts double. Every editor I knew had the same mantra, ‘Cut the Fluff’.

This works for me. I want to get to the point. Don’t dilly dally and draw the story out with unnecessary details, or you’ll lose me. TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED.

So, I find myself reading for details that matter. Why did an author put that description there? Was it necessary? Does it give the reader a better picture? Does it move the story forward? Is it something I would normally just skim over as too much detail when I’m reading? Does it make the reader turn the page?

You would think that because of my preference for clean sparse words that I’d read (and write) primarily short stories and novellas, but it’s not true. I read long, I read short, I read flash. I love a good story told in how ever many words it needs.

So back to my problem. Writing too short. I’ve decided it’s not a serious problem. The solution is of course to read, read, read…one of my favorite things to do. And write the words that matter, that of course is the hard part. I’ll keep working on it.

And what about you? Do you find that you write short or long? Sparse or fluffy? War and Peace? Or Flash Fiction?

5 Comments

  • thrillerwriterrebecca
    on June 10, 2017

    Great article. I’m a long writer who chooses the wrong places to wax poetic. Maybe that’s why I end up having to edit and edit and edit. Luckily knowing your shortcomings is a big help and it looks like we both do 🙂 Great article, Tari.

    • marianne h donley
      on June 10, 2017

      I agree, Rebecca, knowing your shortcomings is a help. Plus, fixing something is usually easier that creating something.

    • taristhread
      on June 13, 2017

      Thank you Rebecca and Marianne. I hope you’re both right that knowing my short comings will help me to get this right!

  • Veronica Jorge
    on June 10, 2017

    Hi Tari, Glad to know I’m not the only one with word counts on my mind. My post, Word Count, scheduled for June 22, is in a similar vein. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And yes, I agree that writing the words that matter is the hard part. I keep trying too.

    • taristhread
      on June 13, 2017

      I’ll look forward to your post. I think it’s a fine line between too sparse and too much fluff. But the right words are there, we just have to pull them out!

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