Friday, July 11, 2008

Less is More

I've now encountered this phenomenon twice in the past week of reading slush: The author puts in a completely unnecessary scene. One instance was a flashback to the two main characters' first meeting and another was an odd encounter that has no impact on the story and is never referred to again in any meaningful way. These examples point to a lesson that is taught frequently in books and seminars; make everything in your story important. Every word should move the story forward and point towards the eventual resolution. The flashback scene should have been in the context of some current situation and could have been much shorter but instead it felt like it was tacked on with no purpose. The random encounter should have had some material effect on the character or the story and should have been tied back into the final scene. Otherwise, in both cases, the reader is left wondering, "What the heck was that all about?" My advice to all writers is to avoid presenting your readers with a scene that evokes that thought.

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