Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Excise Excess Exercise
I've been working on a story I wrote a couple of years ago, based (very loosely) on a translation I did of a Korean folktale. I loved the story but no one else did, at least not the editors to whom I submitted it. So I decided to fix it up and send it out again. This time, after a round of revisions, it was 7,200 words. I started researching markets (there's a dwindling number of magazines I haven't already tried with this one) and noticed that there were several I really wanted to send it to that had a limit of 7,000 words. The answer: to do what I should have done already. This is a lesson I am apparently doomed to learn over and over. Concision is important, especially in short fiction, and a story can always be tighter. So I went through one last time and cut phrases, clauses, sentences, even whole paragraphs that in the end added nothing. I replaced two words with one better one. I removed unnecessary articles and conjunctions. The result is a better story, closer to 6,800 words.