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Less is more, right?

June 22, 2014

Simenon once said in a Paris Review interview that he cut out every word which was there just for effect, every sentence which was there just for the sentence.  “You know, you have a beautiful sentence – cut it.”

So how long does a story or poem really need to be?  Less is more, right?  I sometimes like to pare things down to the minimum, and maybe beyond…


First, a speculative fiction “drabble” (i.e. a story of exactly 100 words).

A current concern is that robots and automation will inevitably take a widening range of jobs away from people over coming decades, with poverty resulting.  I wondered how badly affected communities might respond, a traditional fishing village for instance…




A New Luddite, she’d hacked into the Robotrawler’s computer and nobbled it.  Now she was here for her dues, those paupers’ pennies saved in the old red sea-mine.

The Corporation’s unmanned Robotrawler, which gutted and filleted its catch at sea, would never again raid the shoals upon which the livelihood of the village fisherfolk depended.  Come the morning tide, Seth, in his grandfather’s lugger, would lead the fleet once more.

He unlocked the red mine but the New Luddite hesitated.  She’d fallen for this fisherman.

“Bring me a nice mackerel and we’ll call it quits,” she said.

Seth kissed her.


Now a haiku.  I was reading Louis de Bernières’ poetry collection Imagining Alexandria over coffee and croissants during a thunderstorm when this one came to me whole, as if in a lightning strike…




Croissants thunder rain

Golden butter oozing warm

Naked she beckons…


Copyright © Paul Beech 2014

(‘Croissants’ previously posted on Linkedin.)

  1. Fewer words, at time speak volumes. I would like to try a haiku. Here goes…:o)

    The park bench

    Where she once sat

    My heart aches

  2. Thanks, Pat, lovely to hear from you and yes, your haiku does indeed speak volumes, for it surely springs from that same deep pool of love as did ‘Angel Dear’. Thanks for sharing.

    Yours, Paul

  3. Lovely pieces of writing. I read in one of those writing guide books that brevity is key to a good piece and to chop anything that doesn’t keep the plot moving forward (especially so in fiction). I suppose we can get more in our stories with this method, but cutting is sometimes hard to do. Have a great week.

    • Donna, so glad you like my drabble and haiku. Certainly with flash fiction brevity is key, though it’s good to convey atmosphere and character as well as plot – something you excel at yourself. As for cutting, yes, it can be painful; it’s not easy to be as ruthless as Simenon!

      Cheers, and have a great week yourself.


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