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L2me
June 17th, 2019, 09:42 AM
I find that when I'm writing I start to waffle a lot and have to trim and trim and trim in the edit. Is this a common theme for writers or is this personal preference?
I lose patience with books that spend 500 words describing a tree in a characters garden. I like to get the the root (sorry for the pun) of the story as quickly and concisely as i can.
How important is it to keep a tight sharp story?
Anyway, I think this is long enough now...

bdcharles
June 17th, 2019, 10:03 AM
I'm the same. I'm working on my second novel in a fantasy series and some of the fluff that's gone into it, wow. But to a point that's first draft woes. I do find that I'm not the sort of writer that can leave it until the end, largely because of the times when I write can be very irregular, meaning I may not look at a MS for a week or 2 (sometimes longer). Therefore, when I go back to it I have to have something to prompt me as to what the feel of the book is, and if it's all first draft waffle I won't get so much of that. But yeah. It used to bother me but it doesn't now. It's all vital to the DNA of the story even if half of it doesn't make the subsequent cut, of even if half of it serves as an example of what not to do (like the time, in the middle of a war, my characters somehow found the time to go shopping simply because I had forgotten about the war and had a cool idea for a merchant character.) Even there, going shopping is a fundamental part of that character so in some tangent universe perhaps she did do it. That's how I look at it anyway, and as her god, I can get away with excess stuff like that in early drafts, and resolve all these timelines later :)

qwertyman
June 17th, 2019, 10:15 AM
When writing I waffle and have to continuously edit. Is this a common theme for writers? ...


Facetious is my middle name...but I agree.

When editing, descriptive narrative should receive the harshest scrutiny.

Special attention to double adjectives i.e quickly and concisely (ooops).

L2me
June 17th, 2019, 10:29 AM
I'm so glad it's not just me. ​Phew.
I find myself being overly descriptive but in a strange way it helps with the edit. I just take it to the bones and hope that people still feel whats been deleted even if they never read it.
I just read a book that was full of this, 'he was ripped violently from the truck.' If he was ripped i'll assume it was violent without the author telling me.
What I don't want to do is patronise my reader.

bdcharles
June 17th, 2019, 10:36 AM
I find myself being overly descriptive but in a strange way it helps with the edit. I just take it to the bones and hope that people still feel whats been deleted even if they never read it.

In my experience they do! No idea how though. Via the magic of writing, no doubt :)

JustRob
June 17th, 2019, 12:17 PM
I actually read in real time, so to speak, so as a reader I don't feel able to call a timeout and pause the action to read long descriptions. Instead I skip over these in order to avoid missing any of the action. It's irrational of course, but it's part of the way that I immerse myself in a story. If nothing much is happening and the characters are just idly looking around then there is time for them to contemplate details of the scene, so I can with them, but it makes no sense for me to be doing that when they are busy doing something else. Maybe that's a guide to how much description is reasonable, thinking in terms of how much the characters could think in the time available to them. It's a moot point whether using the omniscient view in a story gives the writer the power to stop time within it to wax lyrical. As a reader I may sense the writer whispering his omniscient knowledge in my mind, but I am trapped in the reality of the moment and can't join him on his cloud beyond that to listen patiently to his descriptions of trees and suchlike. Think in those terms and you'll know how much is too much. You are trying to make the experience that you are sharing seem like a reality to the reader. I chose the long-standing remarks in my signature below carefully.

Olly Buckle
June 17th, 2019, 02:06 PM
Yes, I often think that the adjectives applied are a distraction, compare:-
'A lump of concrete hit the ground inches away.'
a bare statement, with:-
'A massive and very heavy lump of concrete hit the ground, smacking into it barely inches away from him.'
To me the first actually sounds more dangerous, it seems more immediate. All those extra words in the second actually detract from the feeling of danger they were probably meant to enhance.
I think it is more important to consider the order of presentation, for example:-
'Inches away the ground was hit by a lump of concrete.'
Makes the proximity is the important thing, followed by the impact, then the concrete. After all that it is concrete is not that important, the effect would be the same with a steel wrecking ball or a chunk of brickwork.
Maybe not the best example on the spur of the moment, but I think you should see what I mean.

JustRob
June 17th, 2019, 02:30 PM
Yes, Olly, I think your example illustrates what I was saying. Those adjectives aren't part of the initial event but the reaction of the nearby character. An object hits the ground and then he notices that it is massive, concrete and has done a lot of damage. The implications are therefore within the character's mind rather than anywhere else and they come after the event has happened.

Of course if he contemplates the matter for too long and employs too many adjectives in the process he may not see or avoid the second falling block that is going to kill him. That's what I mean about reading in real time. Forget the adjectives you idiotic man; just look up to see where the damned thing came from first. That would be my feeling as a reader.

dahand
June 17th, 2019, 06:02 PM
This is one of the hot discussion topics in writing. There are many people who hate what they call "over-description" and decry it as verbose and boring. There are a lot of people who need more visual cues to follow the plot and understand the characters more. The trick is balancing the description to fit the scene while allowing the reader to fill in the gaps with his or her imagination.
Myself, I like to paint a picture when I write so the reader can see the same thing I see. It helps to be able to use an economy of words to do it efficiently, though.

L2me
June 17th, 2019, 06:36 PM
I think the key here seems to be balance.
It's a fine line between over describing and leaving the audience in the dark.
From a personal perspective I would like my readers to fill in the blanks rather than skip over anything they find dull but I don't want to leave them not knowing whats going on, unless I do-obviously.
Maybe that's a person thing that's not universal amongst readers or writers? As I say the last thing I want to do is assume my reader is a wally...

Ralph Rotten
June 17th, 2019, 09:23 PM
I find that when I'm writing I start to waffle a lot and have to trim and trim and trim in the edit. Is this a common theme for writers or is this personal preference?
I lose patience with books that spend 500 words describing a tree in a characters garden. I like to get the the root (sorry for the pun) of the story as quickly and concisely as i can.
How important is it to keep a tight sharp story?
Anyway, I think this is long enough now...


One of the disciplines you get to master on your road to writing is Economy of Words.
It's a toughie. How do you paint the scene and characters without going on forever?
One of my faves for this talent was Ray Bradbury. He could tell a whole book in 30 pages.

It's just one of the things that you gotta learn in the first 200,000 words of practice.
Without seeing your writing, based on what you told us, I'd say focus on character development and scene illustration, and once you master those two, your Economy of Words will improve.

Olly Buckle
June 18th, 2019, 12:17 AM
Myself, I like to paint a picture when I write so the reader can see the same thing I see. It helps to be able to use an economy of words to do it efficiently, though.

I suppose that the better you are at it the closer the reader's vision will be to yours, but I also think the chances of them seeing the same thing as you are about zero, unless it is something you both know like the Albert Hall, and even then they may view it from a bit further off or a slightly different angle. This is why I write for myself, not my readers, they all see the world differently.