Cutting, cutting, cut!

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

I have decided to participate in one of the current Wattpad competitions. This one is for a fan-fiction story, which I already posted there, and the only requirement that didn’t quite fit was the word count. They set the ceiling at 10,000 words, and my story was almost 12,000 words. To enter the competition, I needed a serious revision to cut out 2,000 words.

Cutting is painful. You want to express this idea and that, to let your readers know all the important details, to explain the history and contemplate the possibilities, but if you wish to eliminate 20% of your story, every inessential word must go. The beautiful adjectives. The complex clauses. The entire paragraphs dedicated to a charming but irrelevant side plot.

It took me several passes to cut out that much. At one point, I didn’t think I could do it at all without mutilating my story beyond salvation. But in the end, the story emerged better, tighter, more focused than before. I entered it into the competition.

Now, it is up to the judges and the readers. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how they decide on the winners. Probably, as everything on Wattpad, the stories with the highest number of reads/likes win.
Here is the summary of my story:

Five Days of Elf, is an urban fantasy inspired by Wen Spencer’s Elfhome universe. Lisa, a film school student from Vancouver, Canada, attends a local Shakespearean festival, when a gun-toting terrorist embarks on a shooting spree. She could’ve been killed, if not for a young man in a gray turban who risked his life stopping the shooter. After this traumatic event, the story plunges into the next five days of Lisa’s life, the most turbulent five days… with an elf.
You don’t need prior knowledge of Wen Spencer’s Elfhome books before reading this story. Everything relevant is right there, in the text, despite my ruthless cutting.

Come read the story, folks. Help me be among the winners.

The image for the cover: courtesy of my favorite free image site, Pixabay.

Have you ever needed to cut your story to such a degree? What was the reason? What was your approach to cutting? Tell me in the comments.






This entry was posted in Fantasy, Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Short Story, wattpad and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Cutting, cutting, cut!

  1. Hello, Olga. Oh yeah, I certainly have had to carve out great swaths of story, assassinating beloved secondary characters, lopping off funny, charming subplots, etc. It must be done, but it hurts. But you know what they say: “Save everything.” Someday you may use those discarded bits in another story, right?

  2. patgarcia says:

    I sincerely hope you win. I will go over to wattpad and read your story.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Shalom aleichem,

  3. Chrys Fey says:

    Good luck with your story! And I like the cover for Five Days of Elf.

  4. Good luck!
    Funny, I’m a bare bones writer, but for one anthology, the story had to be 1500 words or less. Crap was that hard! I went over by three hundred and then it was shave here, shave there to make it fit.

  5. Widdershins says:

    Ah yes, killing one’s babies … never an easy task. 🙂

  6. I enjoy editing my short stories – getting them to fit a required word count is a fun challenge for me.

    Good luck with the competition!

  7. Cutting back the story, while difficult, is definitely better for the story in the long run.

  8. cleemckenzie says:

    What I’ve discovered about cutting my stories to fit a word requirement is that I can make it much sharper and write it much better than the original. I love sharp and to the point, but do get carried away with those “elegant” descriptions and unnecessary clauses. Here’s my best to you. Hope you win.

  9. Juneta says:

    Cheering for you to win. Great cover. Hope you win.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  10. Erika Beebe says:

    This is a really nice post too Olga. I recently went through the same experience with my novel as I said good-bye to 8,000 words! Your story sounds very intriguing! I am sure you will catch much attention:)

  11. emaginette says:

    Cutting is tough, but it also make us consider every word. That’s not such a bad thing. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  12. Loni Townsend says:

    I agree, cutting is hard. I cut over 30K from my epic fantasy.

    Best of luck in the contest! I hope you win!

  13. Best of luck with the competition! I usually start with a skeleton of a story and have to add meat. I think it’s because I lack imagination– and have to put that stuff in later.

  14. tyreanmartinson says:

    I wrote a flash fiction story that started at 1,300 words (rough draft) and it was tough to get under a 1,000. However, I think it’s a stronger story for it.

  15. Hi Olga,

    You bet~ my first novel was so RIDICULOUSLY long that I actually cut it in half, taking it from 125k to 62K…. It is still long for an MG, but I may have to do another cut again if I choose to. I love the story and I may want to shop it again… but It will need another run through. UGH…

    I did exactly what you did, cut out words not really necessary and trimming down my beautiful and lyrical descriptions. That nearly killed me, but it had to be done. Kids don’t really care about that, only the action. lol.

    ALL the best with the story!!!!!

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