Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration - quote from Susan Howatch

This quote is from an essay by Susan Howatch. "Don't ramble. Never write a scene unless it's absolutely necessary, and if it is necessary, then write it concisely." When I thought of the times when I knew a scene was needed in a story and I sat down to write. Then an odd thing happened. I started to wander around the scene pulling pieces of what I wanted to write and throwing them in. When I finished I would have a scene of thousands of words and they never reached the core of what the scene was to say.

Of course, there are other times when I avoid the scene and write a sentence that covers the whole scene. There is a fight. They make love. Now this is concise but it sure isn't going to draw a reader into the story any more than the scene that wanders all over the landscape. I will still use the single sentence method but when I start to ramble, I will stop and put in a sentence. Each scene in the story has to do one of three things. Two is good and three is brilliant.

What are these things. Develop the character. Advance the plot. Give the reader necessary information so they aren't in the dark.

How about you. Do you ramble? Are you concise? Keeping the goal of the story in mind can help make the story shine.

1 comment:

Suzanne Johnson said...

I grew up reading Susan Howatch's work! I tend to write very spare scenes and then flesh them out on later rounds of revision. I know if I find myself wandering around too much, I probably have a scene with no destination! I've been thinking I'd like to go back to one of Susan Howatch's classics--my favorites were Cashelmara and The Wheel of Fortune--and look at them as another author now. See what it was about her books that captivated me as a teenager and into my twenties.