Daily Archives: July 2, 2012

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Twenty-Five Meaninful Words

July 2, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

When I was ten I entered Toronto’s “I love my daddy because . . .” Contest. The catch? Write it in twenty-five words or less. Actually, only twenty by the time you count that opening phrase of the contest’s title. When the call came that I’d won, you’d have thought it was the Pulitzer. The prize I did win was a shiny new two-wheeler.

I’ve been trying to write twenty-five meaningful words ever since. I’ve had some success, some – practice (I won’t call it failure). When I decided to write my first novel in ninth grade, a historical western romance, I felt free, unrestrained by the petty word count dictated by high school English teachers. Whee!! The words flowed, and flowed . . . And flowed. I had great fun.

Much later, I joined RWA and the Orange County Chapter. My, uh, practice continued and I thought I learned everything there was to know about writing through the chapter’s fabulous meetings, workshops, on-line classes, contests and networking. And hey, I was still having fun, even though I had to tame that unrestrained flow of words. It was not until the chapter announced its first anthology of short stories Romancing the Pages that I gave serious thought to not only counting each word, but making each word count. My story, “The Guy with the Dragon Tattoo,” started out at 2,500 words. After many edits, it came in around 2,000. Gone are most of the dialogue tags, unnecessary description and background information, and a whole lot of narrative. I had a blast writing it, too.

The experience of writing and editing that short story got me thinking about my novel-length WIP. I’m still on my first draft, but you can bet as I edit I’ll be analyzing each scene, paragraph, sentence and word to make them count. That’s what powerful writing is all about. Yes, you can write sparingly and still convey powerful emotion. Hemingway can attest to that in his book consisting of only these six words: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” My eyes tear, my heart breaks every time I read them.

I challenge Hemingway! I will now sum up the most important thing you need to know about writing in one word: WRITE!!

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