English Language; Drama & Speech; Social Etiquette. Est. 1986, Hong Kong


25 March 2016

A Story: One Small but Perfectly Formed

A miniature is a representation or image of something on a small or reduced scale. It can be a greatly reduced or abridged form or copy – a summary that you might make in revising for an exam could be considered a “miniature”. A number of centuries ago “miniatures” were very small paintings, especially portraits, on ivory or other material. These were used to show to a potential bride or husband as marriages were often arranged. Books were also “miniaturized” (made smaller) to show the delicate skill of the artisan. Magnifying glasses were needed to read the text of such books!

“Miniaturizing” text is also good for students of language. Shakespeare once said “brevity is the soul of wit” (Hamlet, 1602), meaning “the shorter the better” or “be brief”. So try this creative writing exercise:

Firstly, write a story in 200 words.

Secondly, rewrite it in 100 words.

Thirdly, rewrite it in 50 words.

You can also do this for larger amounts of words and gradually decrease the amount.

This activity enables you to realize what the “key words” in a text are and what can be left out without loss of meaning. It makes you “weigh” your words carefully and make each one meaningful by choosing the most vivid and expressive word (especially adjectives).

This would be excellent preparation for a long story to get its “essence” (plot) as well as the structure (narrative technique).

Happy miniaturizing!