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editingredpenWhile I have gripes about some aspects of my creative writing class (mainly directed at the professor), one thing I really enjoyed was bringing 500 word workshop writing pieces. Even though the feedback was coming from other inexperienced students and then a single ‘experienced’ teacher, the idea was fantastic. Think about it, if you had to show only 500 words of your story, what 500 words would you show?

As soon as I had that word limit, I found myself fussing over the 500 words. It was 500 words that was somehow meant to intrigue, inform, and ‘show off’ what writing ability I had. I wanted feedback but I wanted to give my best. After all, this was the first time I was showing a group of people like this my work. I edited those 500 words many times. I felt like the 500 words I ended with was better than the 500 words I had SIMPLY because I was fussing over it.

That’s the editing fever that every author needs. If we treated each 500 words of our story as a segment, would our stories become stronger over all? I think so. When you’re writing novels especially, you can get lazy at moments or slide in lazy transitions. I also liked how the 500 words made me question each scene I had. If I wasn’t proud to read it out loud, should it be included?

Overall, I found thinking about my story as 500 word segments helped me make my stories stronger in both editing and content. What do you think? What 500 word segment would you share to a class? Do you think that would help you improve your stories?

– Ermisenda Alvarez