Learning to Not Write as Much

When I first started writing for The Recorder in August of 2010, I was writing 1000+ word stories like it was going out of style.

For examples go here, here and here. They are all over 1250 words!!

Michael Walsh was my editor then and he let me write that much and get away with it. Walsh needed copy and I was more than happy helping the paper out in what limited capacity that I could. It was nice to get bylines, but I really should have shortened those stories.

I truly thought that’s how stories were until my editor at CCSU changed to Nicholas Proch.

It didn’t take long for Nick and I to butt heads about story length and the quality of the pieces that I was turning in. We had countless talks on it. At first, I really struggled with it.

So, I had to learn. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy.

Today, if I would ever try to hand in a 1,000+ word story. Mike, my city editor, would laugh in my face and then tell me to leave. It’s just not how things work, at all. It’s really unpractical and irresponsible. Ten to 12 inch stories are less than 500 words. That’s the norm now.

Working on my writing, I slowly saw my word counts plummet to normal, respectable lengths. I still had the occasional “monster,” but I was cognizant of the fact that I knew what responsible writing was.

When I graduated, I thought I knew what to expect.

I was completely wrong. Stories aren’t even 600 words now. That’s the norm. The stories I pitch now are 10 to 16 inches. Features are given preferential treatment with length, but that’s expected. Hard news, in most cases, just cannot be that long. I’ve learned a lot and I still struggle sometimes when I’m writing. It’s all a learning experience.

At first, I felt like I was leaving too many things out in my stories, but that quickly subsided. I’ve learned to cut the fat and respect the lengths I pitch to the editors.

Jonathan

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