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Clever Quickies: an exercise in economical writing

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Cherrie
(@clfors)
Posts: 191
Silver Member
Topic starter
 

Clever Quickies are, as hinted above, an exercise in economical writing.

You have 120 to 240 characters to deliver a hook with just enough detail and information to feel more like a taste than a tease. 

I’ve found writing a clever quickie while aiming to encapsulate a fresh idea quickly, succinctly, but with strong writing and then editing down to fit a bare character count of 120 characters, or in some cases 240, serves as fantastic practice in editing. You learn to hook deep and quickly and you start developing a more critical eye for when you are being unnecessarily wordy. 

A great writer knows when to delve deep and draw out the details and when to hit home with shorter, sharper lines. For those of us who like our details and our complex sentences and concepts, exercises to develop the other side of that coin are crucial.

I’ll be sharing Clever Quickies here every so often and I invite you to drop your own in the thread as well if it suits your needs! 

sample: 

It was in the spin that she lost herself and her heart caught fire, mind and spirit igniting in turn until only a ghost of ashes remained on the dance floor—but what a spin it was!

 

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Posted : January 30, 2022 2:53 pm
Joni Labaqui, Wahlquistj, Wulf Moon and 3 people reacted
Cherrie
(@clfors)
Posts: 191
Silver Member
Topic starter
 

Clever Quickies theme for the week: Eaten away from the inside

The holes weren’t visible from the outside. At least Candice hoped not as she pulled on another brittle smile. She felt them, gaping, hollow. There would be an echo if she tried to shout her own name into that empty space.
CL Fors

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Posted : January 31, 2022 4:01 pm
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 75
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Deep inside that first black hole, at infinity’s death, the pressure finally passed the awaited threshold needed to birth the universe’s renewal: anti-gravity. Soon, it will grow into magic.

HMx8
SHMx1 (Q2'22)

 
Posted : February 9, 2022 6:27 pm
Cherrie
(@clfors)
Posts: 191
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@joebenet I’m not sure how I missed this! Fantastic quickie…how did you feel about it as an exercise? 

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Posted : February 10, 2022 2:08 pm
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 75
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Posted by: @clfors

@joebenet I’m not sure how I missed this! Fantastic quickie…how did you feel about it as an exercise? 

"Fantastic quickie?" ... so many jokes, so few cancellations left.

No worries; I just posted it very recently. I'm always down with getting my prose more concise at times. For this oen though, I didn't have an initial idea. Instead, I just thought about the prompt, wrote a few words, and guided it to a point.

HMx8
SHMx1 (Q2'22)

 
Posted : February 11, 2022 5:08 pm
Cherrie
(@clfors)
Posts: 191
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Topic starter
 

@joebenet That’s one of the things I like about the exercise. The size of it just makes it easier to dive right in even when your creative energy and planning are going elsewhere. 

Well, the name does bring up many opportunities for jokes and wordplay 😂

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Posted : February 13, 2022 9:30 pm
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
Silver Member
 

the best "Clever Quickie" I know is actually the opening of Metamorphosis:
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect.
it's the hook, right there. 

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : February 27, 2022 8:56 am
Cherrie reacted
Cherrie
(@clfors)
Posts: 191
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Topic starter
 

@angelslayah fantastic example thank you!

And the next bit works even better for me. I like if we can have two sentences at least and maybe a feel of near closure or just the next step to make it almost a mini story. 

(First line)

One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. 

(Even this middle bit is effective)

From this height the blanket, just about ready to slide off completely, could hardly stay in place. His numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of his circumference, flickered helplessly before his eyes.

(One could make a quickie of this last bit. If I were doing so I’d add a final short line to close)

“What’s happened to me,” he thought. It was no dream. His
room, a proper room for a human being, only somewhat too small, lay quietly between the four well-known walls.

(Maybe something like this)

What’s happened to me,” he thought. It was no dream. His
room, a proper room for a human being, was just as he’d left it the night before. It was he that had changed upon waking, into something far too large and insect-like for his own bed and the four walls that housed it. (This is a bit long but can be played with and trimmed as needed which I do with my own quickies until I get just the right feel)

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Posted : February 28, 2022 8:34 pm
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Wahlquistj
(@wahlquistj)
Posts: 37
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@clfors, I found your thread!

 

Wind whips the willows and chills the ripples on the murky pond. A hand surfaces, then two, fingernails dripping black in the dusk. Your soles are a drumbeat in time to your heartbeat, sprinting down the path toward home. Not. Tonight.

V33- SF
V38- SHM, HM
V39- HM,P

 
Posted : April 12, 2022 6:24 pm
storysinger and Cherrie reacted
Cherrie
(@clfors)
Posts: 191
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Topic starter
 

@wahlquistj expertly crafted! I particularly like the beat you ended on that gives us closure but also mystery in such a small snippet. 

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Posted : April 13, 2022 9:52 am
Wahlquistj reacted
(@g-l-bertram)
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I've been working with other writers in the story critique exchange, and with their feedback, I ended up axing nine pages of material from the beginning of my story.

Clearly, my story is too long. But the lesson I've learned fits with the general vibe of this thread: Set your hooks early and deep.

2022: Q3 - SHM; Q4 - Revising
Always open for a critique exchange.

 
Posted : May 28, 2022 10:41 am
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Posts: 413
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Posted by: @g-l-bertram

I've been working with other writers in the story critique exchange, and with their feedback, I ended up axing nine pages of material from the beginning of my story.

Clearly, my story is too long. But the lesson I've learned fits with the general vibe of this thread: Set your hooks early and deep.

That’s some quality editing! The great part about writing those nine pages in the first place is that now you have more world and character building in your head as you move forward.

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Posted : May 28, 2022 2:14 pm
Wulf Moon, Cherrie, G.L. Bertram and 1 people reacted
(@g-l-bertram)
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@lost_bard Certainly! I don't feel like I've lost anything with all the deleting.

2022: Q3 - SHM; Q4 - Revising
Always open for a critique exchange.

 
Posted : May 29, 2022 6:10 pm
Cherrie reacted
Cherrie
(@clfors)
Posts: 191
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Topic starter
 

@g-l-bertram then it definitely needed cut! Yes, I agree, hook fast and deep for the most effective writing.

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Posted : June 23, 2022 8:05 pm
(@g-l-bertram)
Posts: 24
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@clfors In the time since I posted that message, I've done about a dozen beta critiques of people's stories. Without fail, I have suggested that every single one of them annihilate (at least) the first three pages of their story. And it's not to be cheeky---it just seems like a really common problem.

The other most common problem is an MC that only seems to do what the plot demands.

2022: Q3 - SHM; Q4 - Revising
Always open for a critique exchange.

 
Posted : June 24, 2022 10:00 am
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