Friday, July 6, 2012

Eliminate Useless Stuff From Your Story - Tighten Up That Writing

You will frequently hear from editors and agents about seeing writing that is fast-paced writing. They want a story to really move. But what does this mean? No, it does not mean to create more action and more things happening in the story for the characters to do. It simply means to tighten up the writing and keep the story going; although yes, there are times when all the authors have the characters doing is sitting around and talking with is certainly not that exciting.

When we talk about tightening up your writing, what we simply mean is to get rid of a lot of unnecessary workds and phrases. It also means to get rid of scenes and dialogue that really does nothing much to contribute to the scene.

Too often we feel like we need to add that extra stuff to make the story sound "more real." In other words, we do know that in the morning when we wake up, we probably all have a morning ritual,  therefore, why not have the characters do the same thing. So, we spend paragraphs describing the brushing of the teeth, the washing of the face and so forth.

Have you ever watched a television show or a movie though? I don't remember when I first noticed it, but isn't it interesting that those charcters in that show never have to go to the bathroom? It is because that information is not essential for the storyline. We have to go back to the basics on this and think about what the goal of your story truly is and stick to it.

Remember this?

Stick to your main storyline and if the information really isn't essential for it, then remove it.

I want to give you another example here. This comes from a great book by Monica Wood called A POCKET MUSE. She discusses this same point when it comes to dialogue.

When writing dialogue, eliminate hellos and good-byes. Salutations usually gum up the works without adding a shred of character development or forward motion.

Dialogue from inexperienced writers often reads like this:

"Mitzi, ios that you?"
"Yes, it's me"
"What do you want?"
"Well, it's about Fluffy"

and so forth, paralyzing the story's momentum. When the phone rings, skip to the point:

Igor picked up the phone. It was Mitzi, bent on delivering the lastest installment of Fluffy's confinement.
"She's doing that weird drooly thing again," she said. "I need you to pick up some of her special food."

Do you see how we get to the point. Although the first interchange doesn't seem to be much of a problem, it does add up. We can now eliminate those lines, or those useless scenes, and then add quality material later on in the story.

Make sense?

Now, go out and have a great weekend!


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