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Small Miracles: Sweet-Talking Short Pieces from Your Full-Length Manuscript

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

By Alle C. Hall

It is a marvel, to create an entire world and a complete life in 500-5000 words—especially if you hope to do so by pulling a few paragraphs or pages from a full-length manuscript. Be warned, however: creating short, standalone pieces is just as consuming—if not more so—than starting from the God-space of The Blank Page.

There is dejection is leaving out the 70-or-so thousand words that took years to write. We ask ourselves, Is my work is superfluous, the time wasted? That fear makes us want to cling to each syllable, to stuff the entire story into the excerpt.

Forcing too much was the mistake I saw most often, as Associate Editor for Vestal Review (flash fiction under 500 words) and Senior Nonfiction Editor for jmww journal (500-4000). Even if the submission came in under word count, an overriding heaviness persisted.

When adapting, it is essential…

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