Tag Archives: flash fiction

Write a Page, Ball It Up, Throw It Away. Write a Page, Ball It Up, Throw It Away. Write a Page, Ball It Up… You Know the Deal

writer_1369645If you read my blog, then you know from time to time I tend to go on just a wee little bit about writing, rewriting, rewriting and finishing my manuscript with one final rewrite… maybe. I’ve also done pieces where I compare the process of editing today with the aid of a computer as opposed to that of a word processor, an archaic typewriter, paper and pencil, and finally, a flat rock and stone chisel.

Just when I thought it could go no further, I discovered another method to ponder.

Imagine yourself a scribe in the time before Christ. Your job: make copies of the Torah (the Torah being the first five books of the Old Testament written by Moses).

I gleaned the following information from Scott Manning’s website. Now, I will apply this methodology to my latest manuscript.

Each column of writing had to have no less than 48 and no more than 60 lines. I guess this means I be needn’ me a bunch of new manuscripts.

The scribe had to wipe his pen and bathe his entire body before writing, “Jehovah” each time it was written. Imagine if that applied to each time I wrote my main character’s name. No doubt I would end up being one clean little boy by the time the manuscript reached completion.

Every word had to be spoken aloud as it was written. I don’t know about doing this one. I’d just have to see how well my mouth and fingers would jive together as a duet.

The manuscript was examined no less than every 30 days. If mistakes were found the entire manuscript had to be redone. Oh well, I’m sunk and I mean to the bottom of the Mariana’s trench.

Each letter, word, and paragraph was counted and the document became invalid if any two letters touched. I don’t believe I have anything else to say.

I think I’ve had all I can take. If these regulations took effect today, I’d be forced to write flash fiction (which is a paragraph or less.) Even at that, it could take me months or even years to complete my first flash fiction novelette.

Perhaps I’ll just stick to one word fiction… And yes, there really is such a thing, and quite frankly, I believe a one word approach just may be my forte.

Excuse me, I must not doddle. You never know how long it will take to find that one perfect word.

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Boy! That’s a Lot of Words!

Ah, the written word. I spring from my bedbooks each day, eager to finish the morning’s necessities so that I can continue writing where I left off the night before. I press the computer’s on button with trepidation, fearful that my characters may have become a bit miffed with me for leaving them hanging or in dire straits while I comfortably slept the night away.

Before we go any further I would like to state for the record that I am not psychotic–that’s my other personality, Bob, and he’s afraid of what everyone thinks of him. Me, I don’t care if the little book boogers have an ax to grind or not. Right now, it’s time to get to work.

As I reach for the first key, I glance at the lower left-hand corner of my monitor to check the word count. I pause. Why would I do such a thing? I am confounded at my own thoughts; not to mention, the heckling I receive from my book-bound characters who are now threatening union violations possibly leading to a strike.

“Just try it,” I say. “You’ll never work in this book again.” There, that’ll keep’em quiet for a while.

Now, back to my original question–why such interest in the word count? Could it be that the commercial entities who control the business demand that it be so? I answer my own question with an emphatic, “yes.”

Amidst the grunts and grumbles of my pint-sized page walkers, I delve deeper into the word count conspiracy.

It seems that first and foremost the novel stands alone. Word count can vary anywhere between 55,000 to 125,000 depending on which genre you are writing. War and Peace was an astounding 561,304 words. I’m surprised Tolstoy’s not still writing.

Next the novella will range from 20,000 words to 55,000 words. “Excuse me one moment please.”

“Shut up, you little comic book rejects! Keep it up and I’ll see to it that you end up at the bottom of a slush pile on some editor’s desk in outer Mongolia.”

Sorry about that, my precious little ones are now demanding a raise.

We now have the novelette or long story, if you prefer. We’re talking 7,500 to 20,000 words.

The short story; 2, 500 to 7, 500 words.

The short, short story; up to 2, 500 words.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, up pops another category–flash fiction. This class of literature contains as few as 2 words or as many as 150.
I can’t resist looking in the lower left-hand corner of my monitor. The number tells me that if I were writing this newcomer to the literary stage, I would have nearly completed 230 pieces by now.

“Uh oh, here comes Bob and he’s lookin’ some kinda mad. Now you’re in for it you little pulpwood ingrates.”

“See you next week; I’m outta here.”


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