Monday, February 1, 2016

Tightening Your Writing - Eliminating The Fluff

I was working with one of my clients this last weekend and one of her current projects. She got some feedback from an editor wanting to get the hero and heroine together a bit sooner. Now, while it is really not necessary all of the time to get the hero and heroine meeting on the first couple of pages, I could see what the editor was struggling with. For this author, it was about tightening the writing.

The scenes the author had were well written scenes. Each of the scenes had information that was certainly useful for understanding who the characters were and where they were coming from. These were not so much back story dumps, but really useful information. So, where do you cut?

In this case, we didn't just simply trim, we hacked. While those scenes were useful, we had to ask if we needed all of the information told in the format she was using. Instead of showing us the entire scene the characters were living, we simply cut it and shifted it to a paragraph of material where the author summarized (for lack of a better word) what had gotten her to this place.

What this author did was what a lot of authors do. This author needed to see how the characters got to this location. She needed to play it all out in her head. But when it came to the story, the readers really didn't need this information, or at least not all of it and not at that moment.

Did she throw that information away? Nope! That information is now in another document sitting there in case she needs little lines, dialogue or a passage. She may not use any of it? Who knows.

When you are tightening up your writing, it is simply a matter of asking if that information is really necessary. Is there a way to say the same thing and get the reader moving a bit more. There are certainly times when lingering over a topic is fine. But in other cases, to get that plot moving. feel free to hack away!

And sometimes it is just plain cathartic!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, it's hard to prune out things you went to a lot of trouble to put in, but I suppose it's the "kill your darlings" thing. Thanks for good reminders. I'm starting a rewrite this week on a manuscript that has some of the above problems.