Saturday, June 20, 2009

Make Yourself Invisible

As writers, we are, at times, tempted to show off our skill. We want to write that amazing word picture of the windswept coastline or give a detailed description of our favorite character. We are artists, and words are our medium...

Okay, let's get real. Yes, writers use words to create pictures for their readers, but they also use words to tell stories. Too much description, however, will bog down a story; it may even stop it in its tracks. Personally, I'll take a well-written descriptive sentence over a lumbering paragraph every time. Maybe that makes me a cretin, I don't know. But what I do know is that I'm not alone in this opinion.

Today, the editing blog The Blood-Red Pencil posted a link to an essay written by Elmore Leonard entitled "Easy on the Hooptedoodle". Some of the hints include not opening with a discussion on the weather, not going into too much detail in our character descriptions, and not to use words like 'suddenly'. If you are unfamiliar with Leonard's work, I highly recommend picking up one of his books. His prose is tightly written and full of action yet contains vivid descriptions and interesting characters. The man is a terrific writers and knows what he's talking about in this essay!

Putting your thumbprint squarely on your manuscript is as bad of an idea as putting it in the middle of the pie you just baked. You might appreciate it, but others probably will not.