Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Too much information

Honest westerns filled with dishonest characters.

Speed bumps take readers out of the story.

The final throes of revising Jenny’s Revenge reminded me that too much information doesn't help a story. Nothing bores a reader more than needless explanations about trivial matters the reader can fill in for themselves. Pointless factoids, excessive description, and extraneous words make an otherwise good novel clunky and laborious. 

This old lesson has special application to my writing because I have a need to neatly tie up every little thing. My brain somehow requires an explanation for every action by every character. This is important for the main plot, but can be distracting when it comes to tributaries. In fact, some tributaries can turn the plotline into a muddy mess. I also have a habit of siring orphans. In an initial draft, I'll launch a subplot, never to return to it. Most readers may not remember the distraction, but the dead end will irritate those that do. More often than not, I find a simple solution: send the orphan to the bit bucket. 

My goal during revision is to cut everything that doesn’t move the story forward. Goals aren’t always achieved, so it helps to have trusted critics that will give you honest feedback. Revision is not an event, but a process that encompasses several iterations.

This is why I believe good novels are not written, they’re rewritten. 

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