Microfiction Revision

Below are some specific suggestions on how to go about editing 100-word stories and other forms of microfiction:

1. MAKE ROOM. The best way to start is to remove all the words you can. Some tips:
* use contractions: it's the easiest way to make room! 
* look for every passive verb and change to active
* look for every use of the word "to be" and see if you can rephrase (this will help you weed out phrases like "There was..." etc.)
* look at every conjunction (and, but, or, that, which, etc.) and see if you can remove or rephrase
* inspect every adverb: do you really need it?
* replace wordy phrases (e.g. replace "be able to" with "can" etc.; more wordy phrases)
* replace indirect speech (he said that... she thought that...) with direct speech
* when you have direct speech, see if you can remove dialogue tags (he said, she said, etc.) or replace the tags with action beats (more on tags and beats)

When you are done, do another word count to see how much room you have created to play with.

2. CHECK PARAGRAPHS. Before you start adding new material, go through and make sure you have good paragraph breaks. It may seem a little strange, but one-sentence paragraphs are very common in microfiction. Try to use the paragraph breaks to provide a kind of nonverbal punctuation to pace the story and build/resolve tension. You might play with the punctuation too, using creative punctuation like dashes — and ellipses ... etc.

3. ZOOM IN. Now that you have your paragraphs, figure out which paragraph needs work. Add a really vivid detail, or add a few words of direct speech, or maybe a sound effect. Replace abstract or generic words with something more vivid and specific. Over time, you will discover some strategies and storytelling tricks that work well for you.

4. ARTFUL REPETITION. Is there a key word or phrase that you can repeat in the story for effect? Sometimes just a tiny bit of repetition can make a big impression on your reader, providing a memorable takeaway that encapsulates the story in just a word or phrase.

5. THE TITLE. The title does not get included in your word count, and it can be a powerful part of the story. Use the title to set the mood and guide your reader in the right direction... or you can use the title for ironic misdirection if you want to try that strategy instead.

And... repeat as needed! You can edit the story down again, carve out a little more room, elaborate, edit down, etc. until the story feels nicely polished.

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