Q&A: Embrace Limitations

(Part V – I hate this low limit on characters in an ask) The difference in reach would be diminished even before that by at least some of the bad guys having spears. Thanks for any help/advise 🙂

Yes, this is part 5 of 5, and no I’m not going to be revisiting the rest of this question because I’m not answering it. They’re not the only person who struggles with the ask box size limit, and I’m sympathetic. However, I’ve written articles for this blog shorter than this question, and it highlights a real issue, you do not have unlimited words.

Anything you write for professional publication will have word count limits. Now, if you want to write a 300k word epic, no one will stop you. However, no one will buy that. You won’t get an agent; you’d need to self-publish. You’d need to have an established platform to sell to, this isn’t impossible, but it won’t work because the problem isn’t the word count, that’s just a symptom.

The real problem is bloat. Just because you have more words doesn’t mean they’re good. In fact, the more words you use, the greater the risk of some being wasted.

Bloat can be insidious. It can be purple prose. That’s a best case scenario, because the text can simply be culled. It can be elements of world building which are tangential to the plot. Nearly any fantasy story that spends a lot of time creating a full history for its world runs the risk of this. It can be plot threads or characters that felt important originally but ultimately became red herrings. This can be some of the most difficult bloat to identify and remove, as you’re more likely to view it as an integral element of the story.

Be efficient. If it’s on the page, it needs to be there for a reason. Those word count limitations are helpful. They’ll force you to evaluate your content more critically.

To an extent, the ask box is no different. The lessons you learn working under a 500 character limit, are the same lessons you’ll eventually face on your word count. Is this word, phrase, or concept really necessary?

I know I’m not always the best example. However, working within those limits can help make you a better writer.


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