12 November 2014

#Editing Tip 2: Reading A Writer's Mind

Following on with editing tips from my writers' guide, here's the second in the series:

Is your story overloaded with description?

Do readers need to be aware of the different types of vegetation growing in every crack on the pavement, or the amount of rust on a beer can in the gutter? Or, indeed, that a character’s eyes are …a striking cornflower-blue… or …matched the rich cerulean of the Tasman Sea an hour before nightfall...? Which character is thinking in these descriptive terms? Often it isn’t a character at all, but the writer supposedly being… writerly. Description should enhance the story, not be the story. Deft touches filtered through a character’s viewpoint are what are needed, just enough for readers to gain an approximation and so allow them to mentally dress the scene from their life experiences.
For instance, if it is necessary in the story for characters to be delineated by their height don’t fall back on bald measurements. Have them step up onto a box to reach something that would be handy to most of us, or duck as they enter a room; have them be self-conscious or pragmatic about their height, just don’t state “the facts” as if it were written on a police report - or in your character notes.

Other editing tips in this November series:
Editing Tip 1: Does your story start in the right place?
Editing Tip 3: Does your story stay within the chosen viewpoint and distance?

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