As I go through Sleight of Spirit (again. oof, editing!) I am again getting ideas of topics for blogs, letting you all learn from my early writing flubs. Today I’m going to talk about trusting your reader.
It’s a hard thing, writing your story and knowing where you cross the line between ‘too little information’ and ‘too much information’. And the trouble is that sometimes, information that is neutral is often, too much.
You see, as readers, we’re lazy. We assume an awful lot. We get ideas in our head and stick with them because it’s easy. To some extent, this is a good thing. Once you plant the idea that this character is mean-spirited, you don’t have to say it over and over, one good proof is enough. Once you tell someone a person has blue eyes, you can usually assume the reader is going to remember that. But sometimes we insist on telling the reader things that they already know, and this has a tendency to gum up prose.
“He opened the door and left.”
Ok, yes. You could make an argument that perhaps it was important that the door was closed. But much more likely is that we’ve already assumed the door is closed based on the nature of the meeting, or the parties involved, or what you wrote when we started this scene or walking in the door. This is what I mean by neutral information. It’s true that to get out he had to open the door. But it’s also true that if we just said “He left.” the reader wouldn’t have any trouble figuring out that our character is not an idiot, and did not decide to walk through a solid wooden door.
I’m finding myself doing this a lot. Still. Mostly with people walking in and out of scenes but sometimes even in dialogue, which really hurts, because that’s something I pride myself on. Sometimes, readers don’t even notice these things – but some people (like me, lately) get picky. If you redundantize on me too much, that won’t be the reason I click away from the book on my trusty kindle. But if there’s another flaw or two there, it could be the tipping point, the moment I sort of sigh and go “augh, really!? Nope, not worth it.”
And I’ll move on.
So. Don’t make me do that, and don’t tempt your other readers to do it either. Say one thing, one time, and make it snappy. And yes, this post is probably going to come back to bite me because I probably won’t catch all the instances this is happening. But hey! If it helps you, oh well!
Soonish, since I finally finished the last contest, we’ll have another, much smaller one for a pretty hand written note card. That’ll be around June 10th, because that’s when we get paid and I feel rich and generous. >.> (In case you couldn’t tell, that’s my sarcasm face.)
Cheers and see you on Tidbit Tuesday!