Word Reduction

I’ve been wondering what happens to a story once it goes through the magazine editorial process.

Some of you have written anecdotes for various alumni magazines, maybe even BYU, but until now, I’ve never had a clear picture of what to write or how much would be cut.

Now I know. From the 289 words I submitted to BYU Magazine, only 177 words were used. That’s a 39% reduction. So either only 61% of what I write is worth printing (smirk), or space is still at a premium in ‘zine print media.

I suspect the real answer is somewhere in between. And I’m not offended.  I got paid for every word. . .


2 thoughts on “Word Reduction

  1. Very interesting to lose 39%, Ben. I am a storyteller…at least in my normal conversation. It takes me awhile to get from point A to point B and sometimes I may even get distracted along the way onto “sub” stories. before I get back on track. Just yesterday, someone told me to “cut to the chase” which is challenging because that’s not me. Often, our conversations or stories need the extra details, the seemingly non-essential information that gives the listener or the reader an enhanced understanding of the situation. This was a good lesson to me that, as with anything in life, we need to make what we say or do count, focus on the most important and cut out the ‘flab’.

    1. Good points, Jaime. part of the difficulty is having two audiences: those that want more detail, and those that want less. Calibrating a story for multiple audiences is something I’ve been thinking about recently. How do I make stories that work for people who want clipped action AND for people who want detail? How do I plan the narrative to have one level for kids, and another for adults? One of the challenges of commercial fiction. . .

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