Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What story lengths are easiest for you to write?

I struggled most of the afternoon to write a 300-word article. It’s a PR piece that had 6 sources, and I wanted to get everyone to make one major point and still keep it short, as per editorial guidelines.

Writing the initial draft (around 800 words) was easy. It was the trimming down to 300 words I had difficulty with.

Around 460 words, it seemed that I’d trimmed the fat, and was now down to cutting the bone, which made for a very frustrating time.

Eventually I got to 370 words, so I sent the story to a copy-editor and asked for a fresh eye to read and cut.

So, what story lengths are easiest for you to write? Are you more comfortable writing news pieces or feature articles? Do you prefer to write a short story rather than a novel? And what processes to you use to get to the required length?


Ms Lona Lee Hart said...

Hi, D. I find 300-500 for short things and around 1800 for longer things really easy to generate. My problem is the novel that I'm writing requires chapters of exactly 3000 words each and THAT is a challenge for me. Is that weird? Hope you and Baby are fine. Check the latest post - Ms Lona has outed herself but not in the way you might think. :-)

BeckyJoie said...

I had trouble at first when hired to be a magazine columnist with only a 300 word count limit but eventually became quite good at cutting down count. It's easier to write non-fiction pieces as far as I'm concerned but I like to throw a taste of fiction style into it. Word count is always a bear for shorter stuff. I'd rather write longer pieces but it's not always possible. I just like writing anything so I guess I'm having a hard time choosing favorites. Good thought-provoking questions though.

Tamara said...

I most hate writing short 300-word web pieces. I like the in-depth features where I have at least 1 500 words to delve into the issue without worrying if it fits on the top bit of the screen or if it's "bite-sized" enough for the net.

I tend to try to write to word count for the short ones, but seeing I always go over, I then do as you did and cut words. If I get totally stuck, I'll ask someone who isn't as "close" to the piece as I am to help me chop.

Damaria Senne said...

Huh! I thought I had it bad with 300-words, but another pub just asked me for a 3-paragraph story. Hard to cut out pieces of an article that you know works, but make the story longer.

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