Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Just finished revising a major turning point chapter in my WIP and it's interesting what this process throws up (no, not in that sense although I do get sick of it sometimes!).
I always find it interesting to read passages where I missed the spot. Usually it's because of over-explaining which I have a tendency to do. I don't think that's unusual in a first draft when you're trying to visualise the scene so labouring the point is part of creating it in your head. But in revision I'm amazed at how little of that explanation is necessary to convey a thought to the reader. In fact Too Much Information is a turn off.
Maybe it's because these days we're more used to getting stories from visual media which is much quicker and sharper than the written word. In the classics, authors relished the opportunity to wax on and on, describing scenes ad nauseam down to the colour of the protagonist's buttons. Try that today and you'll be the only one reading your book. And speaking for myself, I wouldn't even enjoy it.
I like writing that lets me fill in the gaps. Of course, the skill lies in knowing which details to supply to sketch that image in the reader's mind. It's tempting - and fatal - to fill them all in. I'm finding much of my revision is taking them out, not for love of sparse prose but because they aren't needed. Readers are smart. They can get from a to d themselves without putting b and c on the map.