Saturday, July 26, 2008

We Don't Need to Know

This morning's submissions to Rage of the Behemoth all suffered from the same thing. (Although one of them was good enough to pass up the chain of command anyhow.) They all had way too much stuff at the beginning. I learned this lesson a while back and wrote about it concerning "The Battle of Raven Kill." For the most part, we just don't need to know all the fluff that you the writer think we need. The stories I've written lately have all started with scene and action already in play and I think they are stronger for it. Backstory can usually be picked up in context or worked in some other way. This also helps you trim down the verbiage to the barest minimum to tell the tale. Better writing is the result.



Sometimes, in the first draft of a piece, I just let the words run onto the page, overwriting like a madman, and then from all the excess I pluck out the essence of the scene or the action, or a segment of dialogue, that says everything that needs saying. I might not have discovered that essence otherwise--but there's no need to inflict the excess onto a reader.

All those extra words can be a bludgeon--"Did you get the point yet, Reader? Huh?"--or a way of trying to prod the reader in a certain direction rather than letting him think for himself. When I am the reader and I run across stuff like that, it annoys me, makes me inclined to shut the book and move on.

Jeff Draper said...

Good self editing once the rough draft is finished is crucial.