I have no problem writing short. Writer friends who bemoan having to trim their 250,000 word drafts to an acceptable 150,000 get no sympathy from me. My first drafts read like outlines. They require filling out with several rounds of revision to add details of character and description.
I blame my brevity on my legal background. Briefs to the Court are usually subject to strict page limits. The Statement of Facts must include every fact on which you rely in the Legal Argument that follows. Fitting all that, plus citations, with one-inch margins and 12-point font, into the prescribed length is a challenge. They don’t call them briefs for nothing.
I also ascribe my spare writing style to Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. This little book has been required reading for aspiring writers since the 1920’s. Advice such as “omit needless words,” “do not overwrite,” and “do not explain too much” are engraved on my heart. A friend in my critique group echoes Messrs. Strunk and White when she tells me to take out all the adverbs: “They are just excuses for weak verbs.”
So imagine my pleasure when my local paper, the Cascadia Weekly ran a writing competition called “Fiction 101”: entries must not be longer than 101 words. My entry “Flight Risk” was an Editors’ Pick. It is reproduced in its entirety in the sidebar. I hope you enjoy—it’s a quick read.
“In case we’re separated.” He handed her a boarding pass and the smaller of the bags. “Don’t worry. I’ll be right behind you.”
He nodded towards the crowds lining up for Security, and smiled, white teeth and crinkly eyes—the smile she’d fallen in love with.
“Papers, please.” She handed passport and boarding pass to the agent, her glance back blocked by the crush of travelers.
At the gate, she waited until the last group boarded. Maybe she’d missed him and he was already on the plane. She scanned the passengers as she shuffled up the aisle, realization dawning.