Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Too Long or Too Short

     I hear writers complaining about their stories being too long or too short.  Particularly when you are writing for a contest or a specific genre that has a required wordcount, this can be a big deal.
     But the funny thing is: some writers find it easier to lengthen from their first draft and others prefer to shorten.
     For me, I find it easier to make a short story longer.  I think I'm a little bare-bones of a writer in my first draft, plus there is a lot of filler that happens in my brain and doesn't make it onto the paper.  In other words, I know the motives and scenes and backgrounds so well that I forget that my reader doesn't.  So when I send my stories out to betas, they tend to be caught off guard by how quickly a relationship buds or completely confused over why my king decided to go to war.  So I come back through and fill in the missing development and, voila, I have a decent story.
     Taking my long story and making it shorter is agony.  If you think I skimmed over the plot threads too quickly in my draft, you're really going to be lost in my shortened, edited version.  The only solution is to cut characters and the extra pieces of the plot that tie in at the end.  And that is no fun at all.  I honestly don't think I'm very good at it.
     But I have heard other writers say that they would rather write a super long draft and then polish it down to a nice story.  It brings to mind some nice collection of beautiful data, all written out and waiting for you.  Then you can simply look it all over and fit together the best pieces and, voila, you have a polished, streamlined, dazzling tale.
     I just have never had that happen so neatly for me in real life.  It goes so much more smoothly in my imagination.
     So which are you?  Do you prefer to lengthen a short story or shorten a long one?  And, if you like to shorten a long one, how does it work and why does it seem easier to you?  Everybody's writing brain is a little different, and I'd like to hear about yours!


  1. I prefer to write one that is too long and cut a bit out. I don't write too much more though.

    1. Why??? What genius techniques make this work for you???

  2. Jill on Go Teen Writers just wrote a post that was super helpful for me. I am adding this as a comment here, in case someone looks through my blog on a future date and wishes they knew more on this subject.