Profile image
Story Views

Now:
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:
Total:

Technical Topic – Thinking About Saying Stuff Twice

Saturday, January 13, 2018 14:43
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

Joanna Bourne, Historical Romance

–>

tl:dr summary:
Don’t say stuff twice.

I don’t know about you, but I do this all the time. My final editing is full of me sitting in coffee shops muttering, 
“I’ve just said he can see over the crowd. I don’t need to say –’Because he was tall he could see over the crowd.’ 

What’s the reader going to think? 
That he got up on a chair? That he went jump jump jump? That he has a periscope?
They’ve figured out he’s tall. 
This is how I tell the reader he’s tall.
Jeesh.”  


Take this early draft example of a man walking into a room. The purpose of the two paras . . .
(Every paragraph and page and scene has a purpose and you should be able to figure out what it is) . . .
is to show the reaction to his entry and to make the reader wonder What Is Going On Here?

He was late for dinner. They’d started without him. Their plates were already full and the footmen had finished serving the vegetables round. Everyone fell silent when he walked in. They turned, their forks in the air, looking annoyed and more than a little offended that he’d been so impolite. Well, he was here. They’d have to make the best of it no matter what reservations they harbored. His seat was midway down the side. Empty, of course. Waiting for him. His father and brothers and the guests turned to watch him as he found his place. The footmen pulled out his chair and settled him among the others. They’d been well trained. Blank faced, they bustled to bring the platters back and offer him what the others were eating. Roast duck and vegetables. Sauces to go with them. Spicy garnishes along the side of the plate.

He didn’t bother to make apologies.

Well, I wouldn’t necessarily read my way through that with any care and I wouldn’t pick up what’s important if I did and most of it is boring because it blathers on and doesn’t say anything new.. 
Let’s cut the wordage in half.

When he walked in, everyone fell silent. His father and brothers and the guests turned, forks in the air, annoyed and offended. Well, he was here. They’d have to make the best of it. His chair was empty and waiting for him. Blank-faced footmen bustled to seat him and offer him roast duck and vegetables, sauces, spicy garnishes along the side of the plate.

He didn’t bother to make apologies.


I’d argue that the second version keeps the action and conveys the feelings. It shows the visuals of the scene. Most importantly, it still poses all the questions that are supposed to draw the reader onward. 
Questions like:



Why is he late?
Why do family and guests have to like it or lump it?
Why do they keep his chair empty and ready for him?
Why doesn’t he apologize?


There’s no change much in the order of action or the responses. The second version hacks away kudzu of needless repetition. There is so much the reader will assume even when you don’t say it.
Trust the reader.

So.
Lookit the first three sentences of the original passage:
He was late for dinner.
They’d started without him.
plates were already full and the footmen had finished serving the vegetables round.

Now, none of this is throw-the-book-at-the-wall-awful stuff, 
but “Forks in the air,” is all we need. 

That four-word phrase contains late for dinner,
they haven’t waited for him,
they’ve started eating, 

and
he’s not VERY late, they’ve got as far as the first bites but not further. 

“But” – you may say – “I want to paint a picture of what’s going on.” 
I need to give the reader details.
And there is much to be said for doing that. But sometimes description can more usefully be wielded in a spot where it serves a couple of purposes and also doesn’t get underfoot.
I will talk about that in the next post.

RITA-winning author Joanna Bourne writes historical fiction set in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and Regency England. It was a time of love and sacrifice, clashing ideals, and really cool clothing.



Source: http://jobourne.blogspot.com/2018/01/technical-topic-thinking-about-saying.html

We encourage you to Share our Reports, Analyses, Breaking News and Videos. Simply Click your Favorite Social Media Button and Share.

Report abuse

Comments

Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories
 

Featured

Loading...

Top Global

Top Alternative

Register

Newsletter

Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.