I recently had an idea for a short story. As I began fleshing it out, even more ideas kept bumping my head and before I knew, the framework was too long for me to pass it off as a short story.

Brevity has always been an issue with me since I started writing. Any writing exercises et al that can help?

  • 1
    1) What's the "issue" you're having with brevity? Why is it a problem? 2) Okay, you have a novella. Why is that a problem? Aug 29, 2013 at 17:23
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    Yeap, I agree with Lauren. I didn't understand your doubt. Do you want to cut it to be a short novel or make it bigger? I must remember that, if you are planning to release it as an eBook, size won't matter at all. Aug 29, 2013 at 19:32
  • My issue with brevity is that I fail to stick to word limits. What I start off as a short story ends up as another world inside my head; so it becomes very difficult to whittle down. Aug 30, 2013 at 12:31

2 Answers 2


As with the comments above, the creative process is all about continually improving upon your original concept. If your mind is working and you've come up with new ideas, that's great! Many people struggle to get even one idea down, so if you're thinking up lots of ideas, that's a good thing!

If you really want a short story, I suppose you need to look at what the core concept of the story is. What message are you trying to deliver, and do these extra ideas/plotlines help or hinder that main idea? Is the short story really gaining anything by having these ideas?

If the answer is yes, well that's still a good thing! It just means you've probably moved into novella territory, which isn't a bad thing at all. If you think, though, that you still want a short story (for publishing in a magazine for instance), then I'd recommend you have a look at which ideas/plotlines are really true to the core storyline and essence of the story.


Here is an approach that many short story authors adopt because they feel it adds an extra element of interest and speeds everything along nicely. The approach is this:

  1. Create a copy of your short story (just in case you change your mind).

  2. Remove all unnecessary words from each sentence, leaving only the parts of the sentence which progress the story. For example, you could change "John walked as quickly as his injured legs would carry him along the zombie-infested corridor." to "John hobbled along the zombie-infested corridor".

  3. Following on from above, remove all unnecessary sentences. For example, the sentence "Sarah sniffed, noticing that she had unwittingly sustained an injury to her nose as she could taste blood." might be best omitted from the final draft as it is most likely not going to progress the story along in any meaningful way.

  4. BE BRUTAL! Remember that you are now working on a copy of your story, so feel free to hack away as merrily as you please. If you get to a stage where you are happy with how things currently stand, but feel that you want to keep chopping at it, then create a copy of the copy and hack away once more!

Keep using this approach and you could easily chop 10% off of your story in no time!

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