I’m hard at work on the novella spin-off from How to be Alive (all about Zach & Sarah), so my lovely friend and fellow writer, Karen A. Chase is visiting my blog today with a post about why she sets a maximum word count for her weekly blog and how focusing on brevity can make us all better writers.
As Mary Chris can now attest, keeping blogs short is both a challenge and a relief.
She was a guest-blogger with me in September, and I have a 250-word maximum for my blog, “Compositions.” I did this for three reasons:
- Keep my own blog-time to a minimum
- Don’t bore my readers
- Encourage guest bloggers
At first, contributors are often relieved. 250 is not a daunting number. But soon the writer realizes the challenge. They must write and edit simultaneously. Phrases must be chosen discerningly. Choosing the right words versus more words can improve the meaning. Precise word selection deepens impact.
For example, these last two sentences are similar, but one had ten words, the other five. Equally strong although it’s still shorter. Superior yet succinct. (Six versus three words. Ha!)
In publishing, book length is sometimes viewed by agents and publishers as an indication of an author’s ability to edit. Or lack thereof. And often when a book is taken on by publishers, authors are given instructions to cut.
While the first inclination is to remove scenes, try this approach instead. A book page has about 250 words. So a 100,000-word manuscript equals 400 pages. If you remove 20 words from each page, the result is 80,000 words and 320 pages.
So, the exercise of writing a shorter blog is a good lesson. It’s one I practice each week. Even here, I’ve written about writing only 250 words, in exactly 250 words. Can you?
Karen A. Chase is the author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, winner of seven Independent Book Publishing Awards for travel and design. She is finishing editing on her latest historical novel set during the American Revolution and is represented by Rebecca Gradinger of Fletcher & Co. Find Karen on Facebook or on Twitter.