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  • Sunayna Prasad

Why My Stories Might Work with Fewer Words

Updated: Sep 14, 2023


Sometimes, less is more with writing. Since I write regularly and have studied the craft for years, I learned the term, “kill your darlings”. That means I should eliminate anything in your project that isn’t necessary, whether it’s content, like a subplot, scene, or character, or unnecessary words.


This was a big struggle with my own writing. In my early writing days, I would write too little. However, as my skills improved, so did my ability to produce more words in my work. Little did I know that a good number of those words were not needed.


This was especially an issue with my series’ second installment, A Curse of Mayhem, which was originally published in 2016 as Wizardry Goes Wild and has been given several changes, including…a shorter word count. I’ve discovered, when editing that story, that nearly 20,000 words weren’t necessary. Reviewers had even complained about the writing, and I’d thought they had been crazy, as it’d felt perfect and flawless to me. In fact, I’d thought it’d read like a traditionally published bestseller.


Anyway, due to the unsatisfying reviews (but not enough that the overall rating was poor or even just neutral), I pulled Wizardry Goes Wild off the market and edited it. I had eliminated 13,000 words and republished it as The Uncontrollable Curse. In spite of the reworking, the reviews were, at most, just as unpleasing, if not, more.


That was when I got a content edit from an editing service. Although this wasn’t their idea, I removed two chapters from the story. They didn’t serve much of a purpose.


When I republished book 2 the third time as The Unruly Curse, and then A Curse of Mayhem, the readers gave better reviews than the previous times.


So, I always read through and edit my work, as well as have someone else do the same. And I will NOT ask somebody I know personally, as he or she may be biased and afraid to hurt my feelings. After all, my stories may need fewer words than I might ever realize.

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6 Comments


tallicachic69
tallicachic69
Mar 17, 2022

I'm not an author. But I do try when writing anything to say more with less. Thanks for this post.

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Ed Hunter
Ed Hunter
Mar 02, 2022

This has happened to me sometimes, specially in college. I start to meander instead of getting to the topic. It's kind of hard to let go of some lines after editing though.

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Carol Dempsey
Carol Dempsey
Feb 27, 2022

I am nor a writer but a reader and I agree so many works have too many words that are boring and no help to a story.

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Morgan Maples
Morgan Maples
Feb 26, 2022

Loved this take! I too am often a little "wordy" in my writing.

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Laura Ostrem
Laura Ostrem
Feb 25, 2022

I have heard this before, that we can be so enamoured with some of our passages that we don't know to cut them down or out completely. It's hard to do! I also agree with having an objective person read and offer suggestions.

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