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?

Author Bio
Author Bio
My freelance writing career happened by accident, or really by accidents, and I wrote for magazines and newspapers for 15 years. I quit to homeschool my two youngest sons, and now that all three are grown, I’m writing fiction. I live in the Los Angeles South Bay area with my husband, often known as Hunky Hubby. When I’m not writing, I’m spending time with my family, reading, cooking or sewing and I can play a mean game of pool, if I do say so myself!
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      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, […]
  • Tari Lynn Jewett: August Featured Author

    Tari Lynn Jewett is the Featured Author for August. Find out more about Tari and the books she writes.

    @tarilynnjewett

  • Tari Lynn Jewett: August Featured Author

    Tari Lynn Jewett is the Featured Author for August. Find out more about Tari and the books she writes.

    @tarilynnjewett

  • Tari Lynn Jewett: August Featured Author

    Tari Lynn Jewett is the Featured Author for August. Find out more about Tari and the books she writes.

    @tarilynnjewett

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      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, […]

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My freelance writing career happened by accident, or really by accidents, and I wrote for magazines and newspapers for 15 years. I quit to homeschool my two youngest sons, and now that all three are grown, I’m writing fiction. I live in the Los Angeles South Bay area with my husband, often known as Hunky Hubby. When I’m not writing, I’m spending time with my family, reading, cooking or sewing and I can play a mean game of pool, if I do say so myself!
  • thrillerwriterrebecca says:

    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.

  • Veronica Jorge says:

    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 says:

      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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