Saturday, February 13, 2016

Close enough to fit

TIGHT FIT: Several years ago, a magazine editor wanted me to write an obituary for a great race-car driver who had just died.

He said he wanted 300 words, and I knew that would be tough. Six hundred words would have been easier.

I researched the subject and wrote the article. I wrote and cut, wrote and cut. It was about 360 words, and I pruned. I probably cut out the weakest anecdote in the article, and it was around 320 words.

I kept looking for ways to tighten it. Finally, I got down to 311 words. I worked for awhile longer but couldn't find another word to cut. Frustrated, I sent it in and apologized to Larry; I couldn't meet his goal of 300 words.

He read it and wrote back, "That's perfect."

I realized that he didn't want it exactly 300 words; he wanted something in the ballpark. Since every word was needed, he had no complaints.

FIND IT HERE: OOPS! Remembering Louise Smith

UPDATE: More recently, an editor gave me a story assignment of 725 to 775 words. I apologized when I sent a 785-word story. He said there were no worries; it would fit.


Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

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