Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Four Steps Forward, One Step Back

From the Speakers: TRUE LOVE WAY by Kings of Leon

The other day I sat down and, in about four hours, wrote four thousand words.

I had this magazine in mind, Penumbra Magazine, and they look for certain themes or stories about whatever subject to tie each issue together. I like this because it's a bit of a challenge, and it forces me to sit down and write with direction.

Well, the last call was for steampunk. So I spent the duration of a long car ride last week thinking about what my steampunk story would be about. Finally I came up with something I thought was good, and in four hours I had a complete four thousand-word story, hot off the presses.

But here's the thing: Penumbra Magazine has a word-count restriction of 500-3000 words, meaning I'd have to cut mine by a fourth to make it submission worthy. It took two days of hard work to finally get it down within the range. Why in the world was it so much harder to cut words out of the story than put them in? Why didn't I just leave all those words out to begin with and save myself the trouble? Deleting 1000 words was like taking a step backward after charging forward four steps.

But, as is usually the reward with nose-to-the-grindstone work, the story is better for it.

Once again, the . . . act? duty? joy? trails? . . . of writing reflect the struggles of real life. You'd think by now I'd stop being surprised.


  1. Cutting is never easy, but there's something to be said for word-economy. I think most of our work would benefit from a strictly enforced diet! Well done.

  2. Thanks man. And yeah, I agree: less--or is it "fewer" ;)--is almost always more.