Friday, April 16, 2010
From Point A to Point B
Yes, we need to get there, but do our readers need to know every detail in between? Of course not. They'd be bored to tears after page one and toss our book to the side. Which is exactly what I felt like doing to the life-like baby my daughter brought home for her Parent and Child Development class last night. Yikes! The thing never quits crying. Isn't that enough for you to hear? Don't you know what a miserable night I had from that? Do you really need me to tell you that he (his name is Ryan) wanted to be fed every hour and a half, changed every hour, burped every two, snuggled constantly? You're probably already sick of hearing about it, and you would have gotten the point after my first sentence, right? A typical characteristic of first drafts is the inclusion of mundane details that really don't matter. They are usually inserted to get our characters from one point to the next, but they aren't necessary. Our readers are smart and can make the connection themselves. This is no joke, and feel free to laugh, but I had a scene in my first draft where I described every detail of my MC getting ready for school. She showered, she dried her hair, she got dressed, and so on. Who cares? No one, that's who. Some of you may decide to call the writing police on me now. I've heard they do exist. But this is an instance when "telling" is appropriate and even preferred. A simple summary sentence would suffice. "After my usual morning routine, I headed down to breakfast." Really bad example, but I figure the writing police are already after me, so what the heck. Besides, that baby stole all my creativity in the middle of the night. My point is, as authors we need to determine when we should "tell" instead of "show." Uh-oh! I hear the sirens now. Do you have any other examples of appropriate telling? If so, please share. I'm leaving town for a baseball tournament today, and yes, the baby is coming with us. It could be interesting. I may or may not make it around to all of your blogs, but I'll catch up with you Sunday. Have a great weekend.