Hey FFFers - where are you? I miss hearing from you.
The next chapter in Self Editing for Fiction Writers is on proportion. A writer can undermine the excitement of a scene with a blow by blow description of every movement the characters make. Writing all the little details not only bores the reader, it also leaves nothing for the imagination and sometimes makes the reader feel patronized.
It used to be that generous, detailed descriptions were the norm, but not anymore. Because of TV and movies, the reader is used to jump-cuts from scene to scene rather than long transitional shots. Here's a short example:
The phone rang. Bob walked across the room and picked it up. "Hello," he said.
That's not too long, but you can write it this way without taking away anything:
The phone rang.
"Hello," Bob said.
It depends on what has happened before the phone rang, of course, but you see what I mean.
We are a microwave society. We like things to move quickly. In your first draft, write all you want. But during revisions, you need to pay attention. Most larger proportion problems can be avoided if you simply pay attention to your story. That doesn't mean you ruthlessly cut every detail. You want to find a balance. You want to create the mood for your scene. Try taking a look at your manuscript as if it were the first time you've ever read it. It helps to set it aside for a few days before you read through it and make changes. A fresh set of eyes is best - so share it with your writing partner or group.
Be honest with yourself. We love our words, don't we? But we have to ask ourselves if something is really needed. Does it add to the story? Does it bog the action down? Does it bore you? If a section or sentence doesn't quite sit right with you, it probably needs to be changed or eliminated.
Fantasy can lend itself to lots of detail. Do you have a scene where you're not sure if you have too much detail? I'm happy to take a look. Let's get talking about writing again!
Don't Plant Trees!
4 years ago