Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Write Tight

“Use the smallest number of words that will say exactly what you mean. The more you clutter up your prose with unnecessary words, the less chance you have of getting any intensity of feeling or perception. -- Damon Knight in Creating Short Fiction.
This reminds me of an earlier post about how adjectives and adverbs sap the tension from a story by adding denseness to the prose and slowing its pace. As an editor responsible for reviewing and selecting stories for publication, the other thing I notice is the repetition of information. I don’t need to be shown -- or worse, told -- over and over that the teen is pregnant, or that the boss is obese, or that the protagonist is bleeding profusely. I get it the first time. Depending on the length of the scene, I might need a reminder, but that can be handled in ways other than repeating facts I already know. In my stories, I strive to write tight, to make every word count and eliminate anything that isn’t important to the story.

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