Thursday, September 18, 2008

Details, Details

One of the submissions for Rage of the Behemoth I read lately had an interesting problem with it. As writers, we always strive to provide our readers with enough details to make the story come alive. We want them to see, smell, feel, hear, and taste what the hero is going through. We want them to know what the hero's hopes, motivations, and fears are. We want them to understand enough of the setting so that the action makes sense. We do this by providing details relating to all these things so the reader can build the picture in his or her mind. Sounds simple enough.

The problem becomes picking out what details to put in and what details to leave out. In any scene there are a million things happening and to put them all in would make a story unreadable. We just can't focus on too many things at once. The submission in question struck me as over detailed and with the wrong details. There were too many descriptions of unimportant characters and they came too soon in the tale. I felt like I was listening to the Brady Bunch theme song: "Here's a story, Of a boat of raiders, Twelve in all and looking for a fight..." It was too much to keep straight.

I suppose the only way to guard against this is to have some good beta readers that can point out what the author has lost focus on. While us writers can see all kinds of things in our mind's eye, we need to be able to pick out the relevant things and put them in a context that a reader can follow all while telling a compelling story. This ain't always easy, folks, but it's why we get paid the big bucks.

1 comment:

Barack Obama said...

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