I’m very happy to welcome guest blogger author JA Konrath here today! He’s got a great writing exercise to share. Give it a try and post your results in the comments. Also, check out Joe’s blog and his new book (links at the end).
Seventy Words or Less
a guest blog
by JA Konrath
As writers, we’re told that every word counts. But how can we tell, for sure, which words are necessary?
Here’s a fun writing exercise that will teach you what is required, and what is extraneous.
Write a complete story, with characters, a setting, a conflict, and a resolution, in 70 words or less.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Once you have an idea, you’ll discover that you go way over the word limit.
That’s where craft comes into play. Paring down your story to just seventy words takes a great deal of thought and skill. It makes you aware of how valuable each word is, and forces you to defend your choices.
My horror novel, AFRAID, comes out at the end of March. It’s written under my pen name, Jack Kilborn.
Even though it’s a regular length novel of 90,000 words, I tried my best to be economical with my words. As a result, it has more action than most 120,000 word novels.
Because AFRAID is scary, here are two examples of 70 word stories with some delightfully twisted themes.
After you read these, I encourage you to post a 70 word story of your own.
Less is more. So show me less.
by Jack Kilborn
How long? Three days? Four?
No light. No water or food. The closet door is thick. Solid. He’s banged on it until he bleeds.
This isn’t punishment. It’s murder.
He cries. No tears come out. Dehydration.
“Please open up.” His voice is hoarse, raw. “I promise I won’t do it again. I’m sorry.”
The small, precious reply:
“You haven’t learned your lesson yet. Be brave. That’s what you tell me, Daddy.”
by Jack Kilborn
The first layer comes off easy, using a fine grit sandpaper. Things start to get sticky, so I have to use steel wool. By layer seven I’m using a wood planer, shaving off a quarter inch at a time.
Sweaty, achy, and cramped, I’m finally halfway done.
Now I need someone to help me. With the other side.
I can’t hold the planer in my skinless right hand.
Now it’s your turn. Show me what you’ve got.
Let’s make this a contest. Post your 70 words or less entry in the comments section, and the winner gets a signed copy of AFRAID.
Contest ends on Friday the 13th.