Too Detail, or Not To Detail

I was reading a science fiction paperback novel this past month, just got thru the first 7 chapters and I didn’t like the pace. The chapters were wordy and overly descriptive IMO, and the story didn’t move much. I understand that the author is just introducing the major characters in these first chapters, but it was painful for me to read.

I was reminded of another science fiction paperback novel that I read last year, that seemed to fly thru the pages with lots of action. That story moved at warp speed! It lacked flowery descriptions and internal conversations. However it allowed you to get to know the characters as you went along by virtue of their words and deeds… kinda like real life.

So which is better?

It’s a personal preference really. I’m a very analytical thinker and I can’t tolerate too much fluff. I want every piece of information imparted in a story to have relevance, either immediately or later down the road. If it doesn’t serve the characters or the story then cut it, you don’t need it.

Weeding the Garden

In January I took a break from “Tin Man” (my 2011 NaNoWriMo project) to clear my thoughts. I focused instead on cleaning up the various volumes of my “Son of War” (SOW) series. It was a time to ask myself “does this serve the characters or the story?” If it didn’t, I needed to cut, prune and weed it out of the story. It’s harder to do than you would think. We writers tend to get attached to dialog, scenes, situations etc like they were our own children. I put alot of work into those sections and don’t want to see it “on the cutting room floor“. But just like weeding a garden or pruning a tree yields better results in the end, cutting the fluff yields a better flowing story.

So I’m planning to invest a few more weeks this month on SOW and get it back on track. Then I can hopefully look at the details I already have and decide what to keep and what to put into cold storage for use later in another volume or another story.

Never throw anything away or delete it permanently. You might be able to use it elsewhere or down the road.


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