Hewing Away the Rough Walls (Or, Five Ways to Put Your Story on a Diet)

My second ‘Advice for New Writers’ post is now up over at the Shimmer blog!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about superfluous words like “very” and “really” and “extremely” — and those thoughts have transformed into a post about ways to trim the flab from our short stories.

Michelangelo, that Renaissance jack-of-all-trades, is given credit for one of the most famous observations about the art of sculpture. “In every block of marble,” he says, “I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to other eyes as mine see it.” His now-iconic David is considered the ideal representation of the male form, not just because it is massive (even in the Middle Ages, size, apparently, mattered) and not just because Master Buonarotti was a whiz when it came to wielding a chisel, but because you can’t pinch an inch on young David. Trimmed of all fat, skin smooth and firm, hands placed just so to effortlessly prevent gravity from wreaking havoc with those muscular marble arms — this statue is a triumph of hewing away the rough walls and revealing the perfection trapped inside...

So grab your sculpting knives, and read the rest here.


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