Monday, July 7, 2014

"Brevity is the soul of wit"

Mission Impossible         "Brevity is the soul of wit." 

This saying by Shakespeare in Hamlet is ironic in that it is spoken by the long winded character Polonius. Yes, I am a Polonius (this guy) and proud of it. 
Anyone who knows me can vouch that brevity is not my forte. I like to build up details when regaling a tale, give the story meaning, clarity, and bring it to life. I sometimes get frustrated when others tell me a significant story in 10 seconds not giving it any justice. This carries over to writing. When I draft a business letter, I have to edit in a Hemingwayesque style: a lot hits the cutting room floor. When drafting a novel, the ideas and scenes envisioned expand and multiply like a cancer and a novel then becomes a series. Even after five books are plotted out, my series The Amores still seems like just the tip of the iceberg. It could keep going; the possibilities are endless.

Too many ideas doesn't seem like a problem for a writer but it often is. Call it the ADHD of writing, I often get sidetracked on to other projects. Recently, I've been trying to write short stories to beef up my publication resume. However, I have trouble limiting the scope and breadth of the piece once I begin. In fact, two attempts so far this year at short stories yielded some great ideas and starts to novels. One is a young adult love story that spans into the afterlife, the other a new adult love story that centers on defying a fate you can foresee. The latter may end up being a trilogy, of course. 

So I sat down one night last week to write a short story, determined to stay brief. I ended up writing 3 pages (double spaced). The second day, I wrote 5 more. Without totally spoiling it, it's like Stepford Wives and Mean Girls meet "The Lottery" with a dose of "The Walking Dead" theatrics. Yes, it borders horror in a cynical look at society and mocks those that behold themselves as perfect or strive for perfection at all costs. It still needs a lot of work, but I'm giving myself a 10 page maximum. How did I break out of my pattern of novel writing? I took from real life. Yes, as a writer you should do that in most of your writing but I tend to write about fantasy worlds and/or people. My characters do go through real life situations, but I haven't written seriously in a while and when I say serious I mean writing with all my heart, soul, and being. This particular story is rooted in the existence of dealing with those kinds of girls and women. I'm not as self conscious or sensitive as I used to be but people still get to me, and by exaggerating the way I'm treated sometimes and the root of why people bully one another was great material.

As Polonius says, mocking himself in the process, "since brevity is the soul of wit..." I will finally get to the point. I finally got a grip on short stories. Now to get them published is another story that I'm sure will not be brief.

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