About Succinctness

If I thought that this blog would be the blog o’ short bits, I am now thoroughly convinced otherwise. I just have so much to say. Which is ironic–really–because when I wrote letters to comic books back in the dawn of time, I wrote most of them on postcards. Typed, no white-out available, no erasure possible, succinct little notes. Usually with a red ribbon.

I’d almost forgotten that manual typewriters had that option. You’d get a ribbon that was half black and half red, and then you could set it to type in one or the other. Red for emphasis, for instance. In my case, since I was using an Underwood that even then was elderly, most of my black letters carried a little undercurrent of red. Exciting. I used that typewriter all through college and then the platen simply refused to stay fixed. But I still have it in its wood carrying case in my basement. I can’t part with the tool that gave me contact with the whole wide world, got me through college, launched me in publishing, and incidentally, found me my husband.

But college and editor Julie Schwartz encouraged longer exposition, and ever since, I’ve probably said too much. Computer keyboards, with their lack of resistance, make it easy to just type and type and type. Hours go by, I have commented on many foolish thoughts others have uttered on the Internet, and my fingers still feel fine. Lovely.

Lately I’ve been reading other people’s novels, looking at the succinctness with which they convey information. Each of my (as yet unpublished) novels needs an edit pass in which I remove “really” and “just” and words of that ilk. Also, most forms of “to be” and “to have,” even though they are the bedrock of language.  And even though writers today are pressed to write 75,000 to 90,000 words of manuscript for a novel. Whether the story merits such length or not. Throw in another twist and draw out the fight scene and, yeah, include some of what people who don’t get romance call “mushy stuff”–as if they are still nine-year-old boys.

Thus I am in the curious position of needing to be more succinct while at the same time writing even more words. Satori!

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