I’ve spent time this week revising a short story I’m making ready for submission. Mostly I’m cutting. A lot. In fact, when I started editing at the beginning of the week, I needed to cut 1,3oo words, just to get it into a more marketable word count range of 5k. Trimming the fat, choosing new words, eliminating scenes and murdering the occasional darling did the trick.
With so much chopping going on, is it any wonder this week’s assignment involves cutting? In fact, the assignment I have in mind involves more than just trimming. This weekend, I want you to pull out a story or essay you have written and cut the word count in half. That’s right, HALF. Take that 1,200 word essay and pare it down to a slim 600 words. Put your prose on a diet and cut back that 5k story to a lean 2500 words.
Need an extra challenge? Cut the piece in half again. This exercise is guaranteed to make you consider the necessity of every single word you’ve written and to find the shortest way possible to achieve the most impact.