Some famous writer said “Don’t write stuff people skip.” Well, Amen to that.
Now my wife reads Bernard Cornwell but skims the battle scenes. (I know…) One friend has this genuine love for intricate character back stories, another enjoys the ancient history or fantasy realms in Tolkien-esque detail. A third devours the minutia of court drama and politics, which I find drier than the Sahara in drought. “Game of Scones” anyone?
Allowing for the vagaries of personal taste, what kills me is inflated prose, be florid or bland, sugar or sawdust. And in my experience, indie authors are among the worst offenders. I do mean ‘kills me’ because I’m bored to death trying to read books I want to like. Like the little boy digging through a pile of poop in the stable, I’m sure there’s a story in there somewhere. I just wish you’d get on with it.
Many writers profess great exactness in punctuation who never yet made a point. ~ George Dennison Prentice
My plea? Focus – Please. Like a camera, center on what I need to see. If the landscape, then get your thumb off the lens. If your family, then get closer and leave out the sweeping panoramic. If both in context, then frame a balanced shot. Details are fine, but only if they move the story along, generate conflict or ratchet the tension.
Whether you need to read it out loud to yourself, pass it to a non-family member for critical feedback, or hire an editor who isn’t afraid to bruise your ego and wield a scalpel, please trim the fat and kick your tale into gear.
I’ll end with a batch of quotes:
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. ~ Thomas Jefferson.
Good things, when short, are twice as good. ~ Baltasar Gracian
The first draft of anything is shit. ~ Ernest Hemingway
You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. ~ Arthur Plotnik