Less is More

I thought I wouldblah break my once a month posting rule on writing.  This just might help someone.

Just because people say they want every detail doesn’t mean that they really do.  What I have learned through the editing process – with an editor, is that less is actually more.  Cut words.  Cut phrases.  Get to the point.  So what if you can write a beautiful paragraph on the snow and it’s movement.  Did it do anything to help move the story along?

So it hurts to cut paragraphs.  Lick your wound and get over it.  The editor I had the pleasure of working with at Still Moments Publishing helped me cut out 5000 words.  Yes you heard that right.  5000 words.  That was for a short story.  Why 5000 words?  Well.  Lets see.  I had a few paragraphs that although fun or cute, didn’t move the plot.  No one cares that she was wearing a hat and she was fighting with it and static electricity.  Did it help give you an image of her?  Well yes.  The difference was that I had established her personality already in the two paragraphs before.

I’m not sure how many people have heard rules about establishing what a character looks like off the bat.  Well that rule apparently isn’t really a rule.  After I cut out the paragraph on her hair issues there is no mention of my characters looks for several chapters. No one found this disconcerting.

Next, cutting her actions from five sentences to two helps tighten things up a little.  Everyone got she was cold in sentence one.  Commenting on how she handled said cold in sentence two and three is efficient. No need to add some flowery sentences or elaborating.

What i learned – I am wordy.  I love to talk, or write. Some of the pre-edit additions were because of critiques and others were because I liked the visual they gave.  If there is anything i am learning, its that editing is subjective.  The one rule that all editors seem to agree on is that less is more.  Getting there might be a little different, but you will hear it from all credible editors out there.

As a reader what do you do if there are too many details?  As a writer, how do you notice you are being too wordy? I don’t know that I will ever be able to really edit myself in full.  Thank goodness for Editors.

 

Related articles:

http://kellyhashway.blogspot.com/2012/04/how-much-is-enough-or-too-much.html

http://ajbooks.blogspot.com/2010/12/ajs-3-rules-for-successful-writing.html

http://calisarhose.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/wednesday-wrap-up-with-editor-stacy-holmes/

 

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6 thoughts on “Less is More

  1. Mel Kinnel (@TizMellyMel) says:

    As a reader, if there are too many details I become bored. Sure, the author wants the reader to visualize a scene but if it only stalls the story, it’s useless. I’ll be honest, I’ve skipped sections of books because of this very thing.

    I’m a talker and when I write, I can become carried away I have been able to slice through stuff when I’m self-editing but I know that I truly would have to rely on an editor’s eyes to really guide me in the right direction.

  2. Kenneth Jobe says:

    I cut 3,000 words out of my novella because I thought it was unnecessary, and have second-guessed ever since. This makes me think I was on the right track. Thanks for this post.

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