Wednesday, March 2, 2016

#Writing Short Part 2 for Eliza March

#Writing Short - Installment 2  for Eliza March

My editor persona is compiling ideas about writing short for a presentation I am giving in Las Vegas. Any and all ideas or opinions will be appreciated. 

WRITING SHORT Part 2 by M.F. Sevilla

In this installment I'd like to focus on the basics of writing short.

When you're writing short, you don't have time for the poetry of the moment. Adjectives and adverbs become extraneous unless they really count. It's more important to be precise with your choice of words, by carefully considering the adverbs or adjectives you want to use. Make certain every word works to your advantage.

Your sentence structure should be precise for impact. Positioning for impact makes a difference, especially when you're goal is a hook.

Lets consider blurbs. If you write a long blurb about your book for instance, consider it being two-hundred and fifty words, you can afford to use a number of words that describe what's going on in your story. But when your blurb/tag is 25 words, you're going to have to go into those two-hundred and fifty words and extract the ones with the most clout for impact.

You are probably asking, what's the difference between writing short and writing long other than the length of the story? Actually, writing long means you can create a bigger story with more characters and a bigger plot. The very first thing you should consider when writing short is condensing the story you want to write into a carefully constructed hypothesis sentence. Simple is better.

Yes, you probably hated doing that when you were writing a story or project or thesis in school. But now it's important to condense your plot and your characters into the most precise words to impart that story. It's probably unrealistic to consider writing something like War and Peace and think you can condense that plot to a short story. More likely, you could take some sub plot from War and Peace, a point that you want to make, and focus on those details to write a shorter story.

Here is the point where I emphasize the importance of condensing your idea or plot if you have a limited word count. Why? Because it's important to thoroughly explore the story you're writing. Give it the attention it requires to satisfy the reader. Leave no questions unanswered. 

Why should we write short? Because often we have to. 

We write short because in this day and age with so much coming at us, it's very difficult to absorb everything that's out there. Social media, electronics, and information bombard us constantly. Medi fight for a parking spot in your brain and often it must double park. We have maybe an equal number of commercial breaks on commercial TV during the course of one program as we do the actual story that we're trying to appreciate.

And watching the news casts are almost frightening. During the news they've got a ticker-tape running underneath -- not always just one -- probably two boxes placed in the lower left-hand corner, another in the upper left-hand corner, and another in the background behind the newscaster. For a weather forecast you have to look at all of those things on your screen at the same time. It's very difficult to get information and pay attention to everything there. You are constantly making choices about what you want to watch, hear, or speak.

Therefore, you can be more effective in a short period of time if you can condense your thoughts and story or purpose.

So why is this important to writer's?

Well, you've heard of the elevator pitch, right? If some agent or publisher or editor turns to you and says, “Gee, what's your story about?”  You want to be prepared to reply in one simple, concise sentence; a sentence that grabs his attention so you have time to go on and explain your story in a little more detail.

What does it take to get that kind of attention? What will it take to have him asking for more?

Then what if he requests a synopsis? If he requests a synopsis how can you write a synopsis short or long enough to fit his criteria. If a short synopsis is requested, how can you explain your hundred thousand word book in one page? Since a synopsis is usually written before your book, and the purpose of that is to help you stay on task. And once the book is fully written, it’s more difficult for you to figure out where to cut the synopsis down. Perhaps once it’s completely written you know too much detail about your book to make the choices of what to include. 

A synopsis is a condensed version of your story. It can be ten pages long or it can be one page. If it's ten  pages you have a lot of options, but only if you know how to cut it. Say an agent requests one page, how do you shorten ten pages into one page? Maybe you could go chapter by chapter, scene by scene, and reproduce a synopsis by focusing on the most important thing in that scene or chapter.

That's where the secret of writing short comes in handy. Those ten pages have extraneous words and those ten pages have less important points you've made that you could skip over. Focus on goal motivation and conflict. Focus on your over arcing plot. Putting it into as few words as possible, making those few words count. 

Use words that will entice the reader to read your book. Hook them and reel them in.

All Rights Reserved Copyright M.F. Sevilla 2016

Read my first post here Writing Short 1

Coming soon in ebook and paperback ... Techniques for Writing Short by M.F. Sevilla

Today is the Insecure Writers Support Group  day. I hope they enjoy this special post for them.


  1. Hi Eliza!

    Writing short has always been a challenge for me. I tend to be, well, quite verbose when I sit down to write. I really enjoyed this article. Choosing the right words is a great skill to hone and it's one that I'm constantly working on!

    I wandered over from the IWSG list! Nice to "meet" you!

    1. Lol I'm quite verbose too, therefore practicing what I preach is the goal I have in mind for all my writing projects. Choosing the right words sometimes keeps us going back to do more edits...that can also be a thorn to deal with.

      It's nice meeting a fellow ISW. :)

  2. You're absolutely right. I've written short stories/novellas and novels. Most of those shorter stories have less then 5 characters. Some even just 2 or 3! And the story is much more condensed for impact. With a novel, you can add a lot more fluff and stretch things out.

  3. Hi, Chrys. It's good to have you stop by again. See you are a natural. I had a reviewer once praise one of my shortest novellas for feeling so satisfying and complete. It was then I began analyzing the different possibilities larger novels offered to the author and the reader compared to the smaller story. I plan to explore this difference in other articles. Come back and visit me again soon. ;)

  4. Writing short is an art form in itself. Anyone who thinks writing a short story is easier than writing a novel hasn't written one yet!

  5. Great advice. Some people call it the elevator pitch. You're riding the elevator with an agent. You have until the 12th floor to describe your work. Go.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Mary at Play off the Page

    IWSG co-host

    1. LOL as opposed to the bathroom pitch, which is never a good idea. :)

  6. Thanks for highlighting the importance of condensing your writing and writing short.

    1. You're welcome. I'll be offering another excerpt on the subject of writing short in a few weeks. I hope you'll stop in.