Thursday, October 20, 2011
Lessons from Viable Paradise
Less is more. Until, of course, the point where your reader does not have enough to go on.
At VP, I got feedback from a real editor -- sat there and watched her cross out a phrase here and a sentence there, condensing actions into more succinct images. I could hear the screws creaking as the narrative tightened up. She didn't cut it all, because it's not all superfluous. My science fiction tends to come out in an objective voice and I do need enough body language -- in tandem with the dialogue -- to give the reader a hint of what the characters are thinking.
But I don't need to bog the reader down with every little pinky gesture and twitch of the mouth. I need to figure out what the giveaway is, in someone's mental state. The averted eyes? Picking at their nails? That's what the reader needs to see. Use the words you save on choreography for interesting descriptions or world-building.
When is less too little? How much is too much? There aren't any hard and fast answers, of course, only opinions. I wish there were solid answers, sometimes. But in general, I suspect that writers can get by on a bit less than they think they can.
What do you think?