Some say “brevity is the soul of wit.” I say “brevity is wit’s soul.” See, two words shorter!
For those who haven’t followed along, the joint writing experiment that is Mermaids on the Moon continues in roughly tweet-sized chunks. We made it through the first big action scene unscathed, and now the challenge is writing a more introspective scene in small chunks. Even if the story ends up being just some silly fun, it’s a story I’m glad we’re working on, both for the content and the format. The content is just fun to consider. The format…see, that’s where things get a little more interesting.
We’re limited to forty words at a time, but since we’re both of the competitive nature we’re each seeing just how much we can do with our bits of the story. Typically I’ll write around fifty words before it occurs to me to stop and count, then I need to trim some out. Sometimes even add more in. All while trying to figure out exactly how to make best use of each allotted word. The result? Looking harder for the telling detail of a scene and stripping out the filtering.
These are essential to story telling, whether writing 40 words or 40 chapters. And they’re not necessarily my strong points as a writer. Filtering especially. I have committed some acts of filtering that you wouldn’t believe.
Ultimately, this post isn’t about fixing those elements, because that would be hypocritical of me. I’m still learning myself. Instead this post is about challenging yourself and finding a way to come face-to-face with your monsters. That’s the only way to slay them. Force yourself into a project, even if you don’t expect it to ever be published, that exercises your weaknesses. If you’re uncomfortable with dialogue, write a white room scene. If you’re uncomfortable with descriptions, put a character alone somewhere with no one to talk to. I’m not suggesting these will result in great literature, I am suggesting that they will improve your process as a writer.