Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Word Discipline with Rachael Scandarion

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Rachael Scandarion, WOW author, as she tours the blogosphere. I hope you enjoy her post on "Word Discipline."  She will be stopping by to read your comments, so be sure to let her know what you think!

Rachael Scandarion has been writing poetry, short stories, fiction and nonfiction since she was seventeen years old.  She has a BS in Business and Entrepreneurship from Nova Southeastern University and is working on her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at NSU.  Rachael¹s MFA CAPSTONE project will be based on her memoir, ³Into the Light: A Life Imprismed,² an anthology of her life¹s adventures, works, loves, challenges, and passions.  Over the past 1.5 years, Rachael has been researching a project involving the history of African slavery, 1st Nation Peoples, the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and the common bonds shared by all Next Generations. Rachael lives in Florida, has a passion for: singing, her extraordinary 23-year old son, her awesome mother ­ who is also her best friend ­ and her sweet, young Japanese Chin named Tutu.  For more information please contact: www.coffeehousefiction.com

     “Less is more,” I whisper to myself as the pitter-patter of keys pounds away in the background. A deluge of words spills like a waterfall onto the blank page in front of me while echoes of the Minimalist movement’s most famed artists beat their ageless message into my brain… “LESS IS MORE… LESS IS MORE… LESS IS MORE.”
     Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Yet, when I sit down and begin the process with the purest of intentions to heed the call, it’s as though the words write themselves then fight to the death for immortality… battling redlines; contesting edits; surviving rewrites and revisions.
     For a writer, the discipline of “word economy” is serious business: more torturous than nails down a blackboard; more challenging than writer’s block. In this time-starved day and age of texting that often leaves grammar, impassioned communication, and eloquent soliloquy to one’s imagination, the ability to ‘economize’ while effectively staying true to one’s story is paramount.
     In today’s competitive publishing environment where the marketplace is rife with exceptionally talented authors, poets, and writers of every genre imaginable, it is essential that all writers learn how to finesse their stories while adhering to the keys of word-economy:
  •  “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” (Thomas             Jefferson)
  •  "Four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity." (William Zinsser)
     How is this end best achieved? Personally, I’ve found a most helpful method to be writing the first draft of my story without consideration of word economy and then rewriting the story to meet a varied array of guidelines for 600, 1500, 2500, 3000 and 10,000-word writing competitions. In each case, I’ve learned that word economy and honing my skills in a compelling and impassioned voice are not mutually exclusive. That is to say, both skills can be accomplished successfully without necessarily negating the other.
     Take for instance “The Painter’s Box,” my 1st prize winning short story for the 2010 www.coffeehousefiction.com fiction writing contest which is available through Amazon.com in the Fifteenth Dame Lisbet Throckmorton 2010 Anthology – link below: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Fifteenth+Dame+Lisbet+Throckmorton+2010+Anthology&x=12&y=19
     Originally written as a 5,000-word short fiction piece, paring it down to the requisite 3,500-word limit was challenging but well worth the exercise. Less was definitely more… and the impact of the editing process was inspired.
     The method I’ve described allows me the opportunity to learn what makes my writing style unique; what is essential and nonessential; how my ‘critical eye’ can teach me to be ‘selective’ and ‘flexible’ and not to be married to my ego… just let it go.
     One last comment on the subject: Find and keep a great editor at your fingertips. Whether it’s a friend, confidant, colleague, or paid professional (mine is my amazingly patient and always supportive mom), always run your pieces by someone who has a passion for reading and editing your work. There’s nothing better than an honest critique that helps you determine just how much less is more.
     What techniques do you use to master word discipline?

Rachael, thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing your writing wisdom with us. It is always inspiring to me to hear a writer's thoughts behind their craft.


Cat said...

Great post! I just finished paring down my synopsis and thought I couldn't possibly cut it any more, but I did and it's better for it. BTW. I found you via a WOW! tweet. Huge WOW fan ;)

litenup_rach said...

Awesome, Cat. Was there anything in particular you watched for in order to 'pare down'? Or generally 'unnecessary' words that got axed?
Thanks for the love... back at ya'.

Alleged Author said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing!

litenup_rach said...

Hey Alleged Author,
Enjoyed sharing... thanks for your comments.

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