There can be multiple reasons for downsizing your story. It could be to fit it into a certain length to enter as a submission for publication. Or perhaps you’re at the stage where you connected with an editor and get asked to trim down your story.
Whatever the reason, there are certain things you can do to help accomplish this grueling feat. As writers, we’re good at creating stories. But we’re a lot less proficient with cutting out stuff from our own work. After all, we tend to think everything we’ve written is necessary to the story. Often times, though, they’re not. Hopefully these tips will make trimming down your work go a bit smoother.
3. Know For Certain What The Size Of The Story You Want To Tell Is
One of the first things you need to do is figure out the size of the story you’re trying to tell. If you’re planning on writing a short story, you obviously can’t have it too long or it just becomes a full-fledged novel or novella. With a short story, you must make sure you stick with the basics.
Focus on streamlining the plot, character development, and pacing of the story. This is best done by minimizing flowery language and simply focusing on telling a good story. And if your story still goes too long, you might have to consider breaking it up into multiple parts—ending each part on a cliffhanger so the piece can be considered its own story arc of a larger collective. Pretty much what comic books do.
2. Go Through Your Story And Figure Out What Isn’t Needed
Another good way to trim the fat off of your story is figuring out what is really needed. Are you really relaying important information to the reader, or are you just going on a long-winded explanation to make yourself look fancy?
There’s nothing worse than reading a paragraph that takes up half the page even though it can be summed up in a few sentences just as easily. Especially when trimming it down would likely make the story flow better. You should never bog down your work with pointless prose. And definitely don’t do this as a means to fluff things up to add to your word count. It will only cause the reader to lose interest.
1. Learn When You Should Stop Adding Stuff To Your Story
Sometimes more is not always better. As I said before, you shouldn’t add pointless prose to fluff up your word count. At best, it slows down the plot. At worst, it can make things more complicated. You never want to accidentally confuse your readers or even worse, bore them. Remember, keep a good pace and add only what is necessary to keep the story moving forward.
You want your stories to be like a good mixed drink: it goes down nice and smooth, leaving the reader wanting more. Adding more ingredients just cheapens the product. Like drinking a dirt beer that makes you cringe after every sip. Yeah, it’ll still get you drunk, but getting to that point won’t be anywhere near as enjoyable. And the hangover will be brutal.
These easy to follow tips should help you in the future when it comes to editing your stories after the initial draft. Just remember, it can be a bit of a long road to get a story where it needs to be. Make sure you don’t let yourself get too frustrated during the process.
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