Selasa, 05 Juni 2012

Narrative Bloats Text and Inhibits Pacing

Eschew What's Obvious to the Reader

I read a novel by a popular author who decided his readers needed to know when his protagonists went to the bathroom. I'm eternally thankful he spared us a discussion of the actual event, but we still received an account of each trip behind a bush. I'm not making this up, and I can only assume this writer was trying to make a sideways stab at humor, but because of the serious nature of his material otherwise, it didn't work for me.

Likewise, Don't Write About Issues That Have Nothing To Do With the Scene

Readers can assume a garage door was shut before the hero or heroine entered the house, as well as that the kitchen lights were turned off as a character leaves to enter another room. This is no different from answering the phone. Someone can simply write that "John answered the phone" and move on to the actual conversation.

Or the same activity could read like this: "John heard the harsh cacophony of the ringer inside the old, white, oblong phone hanging on the wall in his kitchen. He pushed himself up from his lounge chair in the living room and walked briskly to the grab the receiver, noting the location of the furniture along the way so he wouldn't bump into anything. As soon as he reached the phone, he placed his right hand firmly on the handset and removed it from the cradle, pulling upward and outward in one swift motion. He swallowed hard and took a deep breath, holding the speaker section directly below his mouth, but not so close that his chin would touch it. He wasn't at all concerned with whomever was on the line, so in a pleasant tone he said, "Hello."

Some Things Can and Should Be Taken for Granted

The same sort of laborious writing describing answering a phone can apply to almost any normal activity. I read a paragraph in a novel recently that was as silly as the one I just wrote, but in that instance it depicted a person entering a car. Instead of the character driving away from the scene of the crime, I was told how he got in the driver's-side door, placed the key in the ignition, started the engine, shifted the transmission in gear, and then pressed the accelerator. That really was more information than I needed to know, although I appreciated the tutorial, as I'm getting old and tend to forget how to get my own car going.

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