Super, Ultra-Concentrated Prose

I’m entering a contest called The Frasier hosted by My Book Therapy. The entry includes a 500 word synopsis of my book along with the first scene. I think I mentioned before that writing a synopsis is harder than writing a novel. I was so proud to have gotten that thing down to two-pages and now they want one!

Which turned out to be the easy part. You see, that first scene can only be 1,500 words! I got out my first chapter and looked at where I thought the first scene ended. It was about 2,400 words in. Ack! I tried just lopping the thing off after 1,500 words and it left waaaaay too much out. Maybe I am getting off to a slow start!

So I took my 2,400 words and began a slow simmer over a steady flame. Cutting, rephrasing, calculating, condensing. And you know what? It’s now 1,500 words long (exactly!) and I suspect is a whole lot stronger than it was 900 words ago. I’ve gone from a light broth to a rich stock.

Do I have a winner? Time will tell. But regardless, this was an outstanding exercise in storytelling. If you’d like a writing challenge, take your first scene and boil it down to 1,500 words that set up all the key elements your reader needs to understand where your book will end up in another 75,000 or so. Phew!

3 thoughts on “Super, Ultra-Concentrated Prose

  1. Congrats – that does sound like quite a feat. Not sure I could chop my first scene down that much, but I do know, the more I tighten, the better my stuff becomes. Way to go!

    • I will confess there are some things I’ll probably add back in for the full ms. They were things that didn’t absolutely have to be there for the set-up. Just nice touches and hints that I miss!

  2. Oh, Sarah…I completely empathize with you! We all struggle with that nasty, ol’ scalpel from time to time. In my last manuscript, I chopped out ENTIRE pgs, and I bet there will still be tons of editing once I make it that far. A good writer can write well. A MATURE writer learns to write great. The ability to edit shows growth! : )

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