Writing Within Limits

All of last week’s posts were written on my Kindle Touch. I was riding in the back seat of a car with little else to do but read and write. The text editor I use is limited to 3099 characters or maybe around 500 words. I am a “prolific” writer usually, churning out 1-2K without much trouble.

On the Touch it’s different story. Between hunting and pecking and the need to correct mistakes as I go, I find that I write not only slower but more succinctly. And, strange to relate, I think this is actually a good exercise, one that more of us should try.

I’m constantly analyzing my stats, as most bloggers are prone to do, and shorter posts seem to generate more views. I don’t know if this is because they are tighter and more polished, or if people just don’t have time to look at a more drawn out argument.

I like doing projects like NaNoWriMo, or the 3 day novel labor day challenge (maybe next year). Still, my first draft of my latest novel is almost 200K long and I’d like to cut it down to 125K. That’s like cutting a novel out of a novel.

Poetry is all about writing within constraints, whether it be sonnets or haiku. But prose, fictional or otherwise also benefits from deliberate word choice, structure and brevity.

What ways have you tried to tighten your prose?

PS: This post was also written on the Touch. Longer car ride than I thought!

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7 Comments

Filed under Writing

7 responses to “Writing Within Limits

  1. mlfables

    I’ve noticed that too about shorter blog posts. Posts of under 500 words get a better response than ones well over that.

    Still, thats how it is all around the Internet. I remember reading an article (in The Guardian I think?) that said the optimal article length for the web was about 350-750 words.

    This was because we have shorter attention spans when reading online due to multi-tasking and distractions (I know I tend to web browse when at work).

    • It’s weird how almost no other factor (content, tags, timeliness) has as much affect in the popularity of a post as length. On a computer it’s hard to self impose limits, so writing on another device helps. Still, there are times where I have to go all out (even if it means a few less views) 🙂 Thanks for stopping by mlfables!

  2. stuffblogged

    Interesting post, good job.

  3. I know what you mean about typing on your Kindle – blah! I refused to get the better cell phone because it didn’t have a keyboard. My brother teased me, but using an on-screen keyboard is frustrating. I have tiny fingers and I still “fat finger” those little keys.
    And I hate writing in limits. It’s like how you wished my short story was longer, but I was trying to stay in the limits of a short story. Never again!

    • Some things defy artificial limits, but I do think that blog posts especially benefit from brevity. The exercise of having nothing else to do but write increased my skill with the Kindle Touch keyboard, but it is still frustrating. I’d apply the never say never approach to short stories however. Some ideas are great for flash fiction, it just weirdly enough depends on the idea.

  4. I find that when I’m fansubbing, I tend to write much more slowly than usual.

    You know the feeling?

    • Now if only those “constraints” applied to content as well we’d be in business 😉 I think we’d write a little faster if we could stop laughing (but that’s half the fun!)

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