Friday, 18 November 2011
To be brief
Yes. I shall.
As regular readers know, I've mainly written poems and short stories. I've also worked on a local newspaper, and as freelance newsletter editor and press and PR officer. It's all writing, but it's all writing of a certain kind... succinct!
Learning to edit comes in really useful for poems and stories... where the reader is expected to do a good deal of the imagining. It's good for any writing which, due to the limitations of space or the pursuit of brevity, applauds the cutting down of what you want to say to the minimum possible number of words.
This can be tricky in a novel. It dawned on me some way into it that readers may struggle with this kind of succinctness and could need some breathing space between events, some scene-setting - the sort of stuff I cut out of stories, poems, articles ... and blogs!
When I read, I'm too impatient for pages and pages of irrelevant 'purple' prose - but I'm not sure I want to romp through a story at breakneck speed either. So I'm now anti-editing - adding rather than taking away. What's she thinking? What's the background to this? What's the weather like? - not for padding (it's already 77k words with a few scenes to add), but to make it a more satisfying read.
I'm interested what you think - do you like the 'two veg' of scene-setting or do you skip to the 'meat' of the next exciting thing? Do you want to know a character's whole back story or is a well-chosen pen sketch enough? And when YOU write do you find yourself writing too much or, like me, do you compulsively edit what you've written until you are gnawing on the bare bones? Short - or lengthy - replies welcome!