The patient is prepped and waiting, and the surgeon approaches. The patient is too heavy and must lose weight…a lot of weight! There’s only one solution and the patient goes under the knife.
The “patient,” in this case, is a short story intended for entry in a writing contest as part of the Tennessee Mountain Writers Conference coming up in Oak Ridge in April. Entries are limited to 3,000 words and…well…it’s a good story but it’s 5,300 words. (And, no, they won’t make an exception).
The integrity of the story must be maintained so the plot itself is not reconstructed but parts of paragraphs are transplanted. Words are excised. Phrases are abraded. Clauses are bypassed. And a number of sentences are amputated altogether.
The end result is achieved: 2,989 words! And, like all good plastic surgery, the patient is not different, just better than before.