Writer’s Desk: Make It Shorter

Writers like the great Andre Dubus (whose wrenching New England stories of love and agony put Raymond Carver to shame) choose a lonely and difficult road when they decide to master the short story rather than the novel. But the form does lend itself to those who prefer concision.

It is one thing to go through one’s draft to do some nipping and tucking. But Dubus was brutal:

Dubus’s prowess in narrative compression is legendary. Andre Dubus III has written that his father’s story “Waiting,” about the hollow ache experienced by a woman widowed by the Korean war, took fourteen months to write and was more than one hundred pages in early manuscript form. But when the story was published in the Paris Review, it spanned a mere seven pages…

Be prepared to dump 93 percent of what you write. At least.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s