TIP: Less Is More
>I subscribe to a lot of lists that send me articles on writing. I’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge over the years from these aricles as well as hours and hours and hours of practice. I often think how I’d like to share some of this knowledge with other writers, but just as quickly remember that instruction is definitely not my forte.
So, I’ve decided to offer up some tips as described by those who are talented instructors echoing my thoughts and feelings on the subject.
Today’s tip: Less Is More.
I find this a lot when critiquing, typically with young writers–not young as in age, but young as in length of writing career. I recognize it because I, too, made this mistake as a young writer. I sometimes still make this mistake and am constantly cutting in edits and revisions.
The culprit? 1) Not trusting your reader. They’re much smarter than we give them credit for. Our audience is filled with seasoned romance readers. They understand the nuances of romance, they can read between the lines, they anticipate plot lines and character arcs. We don’t have to explain it all to them.
2) Not trusting yourself. When you don’t trust the strength of your writing, you tend to over-explain, over-simplify and repeat yourself. If you’re truly showing and not telling, you won’t need to over-write.
Here are a few tips from Caro Clarke:
“…since you don’t want your readers to start with the wrong impression [of your character], you pile up descriptive scenes as soon as the story opens. “
“…personal appearance matters only when it influences a character’s motivation or has an impact upon the story.“
“…where description is necessary, avoid a solid, dull block of descriptive prose by integrating description with action, or by having the description filtered through the eyes of a character.”
“…give the reader the fewest descriptive words necessary to convey the scene.”
“…a basic rule of writing is to have nothing that does not propel the narrative, either because it furthers the action, or because it illuminates character within that action. Two people rushing through the night to the hospital is action, two people arguing in the car as they rush to the hospital is character development within action.”
One other tip I heard somewhere in my writing travels was regarding description: Don’t use more description in your manuscript in any one place than the character could take in or recognize within two minutes time under the setting circumstances.
Do you have tips on Less Is More that you can share?