I am so pleased not to be chained to a word count!
When I studied Drama, writing was about getting the only words needed for the job – and seeing if you could make those lines stronger. In other words, writing, then cutting lines and chunks until only the very essence of the message was left.
Actually, this is very powerful. You are speaking words that matter and giving them space to have impact. There is no room for waffle.
When you look at the short sketches in the Communicate books, they aren’t short because I have nothing to say – they are short because they make their point, and if anything more needs to be said it is left up to a preacher to say it. The sketches are filled with what I call ‘loaded lines for preaching points’ where a speaker could refer to a quote and pick up a theme. Remember, almost all the sketches in these books have been written knowing the sketch would be followed by and deliberately linked to a preach.
Imagine being trained to cut lines like wildfire – then wondering if you could write a novel!
For a long time I just said, “I can’t.” The word count was a mountain! If this was just a writing milestone and a task to do – to be able to say “I did it!” there was no reason to begin, for all I could see was the word count.
One day my thoughts changed to “Yes, I can!” That simple change to a positive meant I moved from static to planning, drafting and making the deliberate decision to write. Nevertheless, the habit of cutting lines and being in a character’s head has meant that Leah is quite an intense read. It plays like a film in my head.
(Word-counters may argue that it is a Novella – but they could always continue the story with ‘Rachel’s Child.’)
I am glad of the e-book revolution. It does not ask, “Are you famous?” or “Can you write long enough pieces?” or “Dare we spend our money on trying to sell your books?” It simply asks, “Do you have something to say?”
Take “A Christmas Carol.” Dickens had something to say! That short book carries a timeless message. The short book “Of Mice and Men” by Steinbeck, has embedded itself into a school curriculum for years. The short book “Animal Farm” by Orwell caused consternation and rouses deep questions in its readers.
A short book is enough. In our busy society with so many alternate ways of spending your leisure time, people can be forgiven for thinking, “Get to your point!”
I am pleased to be able to simply get to my point, stay on my point and finish when I feel I have said it!
Short books are not necessarily quick books! They are drafted, planned, honed over time. They may be a quick read but they are not a quick write! May we not devalue the short book and penalise it for its lack of words, but rather enjoy the read that makes us think and gives us the option to go back and read again.
I am grateful to e-books, for giving the writer a chance to use their voice and say, “Now – what is my message?”