Saturday, 7 March 2009

Kill them off

What do you do if you have a 1500 word story and it is the kind of story that only a magazine wanting 1000 or 2000 words would publish? Cut it?

Well yes that's one option. And how do you do that? Go through over and over nipping out a word here, a sentence there. It's never easy to get rid of those excess words.

The other option is to fatten it up a bit, but there's a problem with that too. All that excess wordage can look a bit ugly and make your story feel too heavy.

Apart from shaving words, there is another option. Kill someone off. I don't mean have them murdered or drop dead in the story, but get rid of them. Wipe them away and leave not a smear behind. They never existed. Make it so.

Take Betty. Lovely lady. Warm, friendly and with a sharp wit and an acute sense of justice. She has some lovely lines. It would be a shame not to use them. But cut her out and does the story suffer? No? Get rid of her then, blow her away. Bye Betty. What are you left with? 1100 words? Shave off that excess 100 - easy peasy.

Do you use her in another story? That's up to you. I've only done it once I think, but don't quote me on that because my memory is unstable. Normally if I kill someone off, that's it, they're done. No matter how nice or nasty they are, I find it very difficult to fit someone into a story just because I happen to like the character.

This is in danger of becoming a waffle. What to do if you don't have a Betty to get rid of? Well you can carry on nipping out sentences and words, or you can try making the story longer, or you can just try to find another home for your 1500 word story.

Am I going to be killing anyone off today? Well that remains to be seen. I've no stories started, no notes written, so I'd best get on.

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