Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday's Writer's Tip - Selective Process

Once again I'm looking at an essay by Morris L. West. He has this to say about the selective process. "If you try to show and tell everything, your reader will die of boredom before the end of the first page."

How very true this is. I'm revising a story written 40 plus years ago. What surprises me is that it was almost published. I'm sure the editing would have been extensive. It is today. More than 125,000 words will probably end up as no more than 80,000 words. The real problem was in the they did this and they did that without taking any breaks to show the later moments. A lot of the words are cut because once on a roll, I wanted to tell everything the characters did, said, felt and that drill. Very few moments were left unsaid. Important happenings were buried in a storm of words.

How can this be changed? Picking out what's important and focusing on this. The reader doesn't need to know about every meal, every going to bed, every awakening. Is this a beginner's mistake? Partially but it can happen to old hands, especially when they're trying to find what they want to say and show about each character. It's a matter of importance and the writer must decide this. Making time breaks is one way to get out of the problem of being unselective. Rather than take a minute to minute look at the character cut out all those details that add nothing to the story.  Try, he yawned. then a *** space break. Then try. The office or wherever the character goes next. 

Be selective and the reader will read on. Throw in every action, thought and deed and the reader will yawn.

1 comment:

Melissa Keir said...

This is why I love writing Flash Fiction. You have such a short amount of words you have to trim your descriptions.

I just hope that I don't leave anything out and make sure to convey the scene!