One of my jobs is running a non-profit arts service organization. This past week has been about completing some online profiles and doing a grant. Both of these require specific wordsmithing. Max 200 words here, 2600 characters including spaces there. My manuscript is contracted to be 80,000 words. This weekend, I am pitching a book, and I needed to write a 50 word blurb in advance.
In the case of my book, I write short and use the edits to flesh it out–adding descriptions, writing clarifying scenes, in some cases fleshing out a subplot. That is part of my process, and now that I have written a few books I know I can do it. My novel writing friends know well that the hardest part of writing a novel is starting. The second hardest part is finishing.
Honing my narrative to fit a specific text block is another matter all together. Free flowing prose is gone. Instead, well written, terse statements that nonetheless evoke feelings of generosity and an air of competence is the norm. Trying to cut 13 words, after having cut 100, is brutal. A great skill to master, but brutal.
The 50 word pitch was the hardest of them all. I am trying to sell a book. I love this book. Love does not make you rational. Or able to explain why someone else should love it in 50 words. This weekend I give the pitch–I’ll let you know how it goes.
Do word counts paralyze you? How are you at wordsmithing?