Saturday, September 6, 2014

Trying something shorter.

People are always recommending that I write short stories or something.

As if that would be easier.

But that's like asking a long-distance runner why he doesn't do sprints.

It takes a certain type of thinking to create long-form stories.  It comes naturally to me.

Short stories are a whole nother thing.

Anyway, when I started writing Tuskers, I thought it would come in around 20K words and that was Okay.  But, as usual, I started adding characters and scenarios and I ended up at 47k words.  By the time I rewrite, it will probably be 50K words, because my tendency is to under-write and have to flesh it out later.

The S.F. writer Rudy Rucker was in my store, and he thought Tuskers was fun and that I ought to submit it to Amazon Singles.  I'd never heard of that, and when I checked it out, it required a story less than 30K words.  It is also a judged submission process, so the chances of it being accepted are unknown.  I suspect it isn't easy.

But I'm spending several months editing the story anyway, so what harm could there be in trying?

So yesterday, I started out to see what could be done to cut 17K words.

First I eliminated all the secondary characters.  That cut about 16K words.  To my great surprise, the story still holds up with just minor changes.

That left me with 31K words, so I spent the day cutting, and it looks like by the time I'm finished, I'll have cut another 1500 words, getting me under the limit.

So I'm going to go ahead and submit the story on Monday -- but not expect anything.  Really. 

It turned out to be a useful enterprise no matter what.  Cutting unnecessary words really tightened it up.  Made me aware of where I was being too wordy.  More often than not, cutting a few words made the sentence less passive.

I have a couple of bad habits I really wasn't aware of,  but over the last two manuscripts I've started to see it.

Anyway, if by some miracle, the story gets accepted, it will delay the longer book for some time, which is all right.  I've titled the shorter version "Tusker" instead of the plural "Tuskers."  If the short version gets published, then I'll put out the novel version later.  May even say something like:  Tuskers: the Novel.

It's all forward progress, I suppose.  I hate the complications (which is why I don't do much promotion) but I guess some of it is unavoidable.

Trick is just to do it and forget it.

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