Saturday, February 6, 2010


Grand Hiver by Cuno Amiet--1868 - 1961 One reason I don’t look back over the previous day’s writing is because I know what I’ll usually see:

Blah, blah, blah.

When I get an idea or have characters in a conversation, I can just milk the scene to death. Oh, I have my plan for the chapter (my mini outline.) I have a sense of how long my chapters are, although I don’t put in chapter breaks for the first draft.

But I will just keep on going. I know I’ll be editing out a ton for the second draft, anyway. And who knows what bits I’ll like best? So I’ll overwrite.

When I was a kid, essays had to be a certain number of words. I remember bloating my writing with all kinds of junk just to hit my word count.

I’m thinking that today’s kids really know the art of brevity. Texting encourages it, and so does Twitter. Oh, and Facebook status updates can only be so long, too.

When my son came home sick from school a couple of weeks ago, I got a text from him: Help me.

What’s wrong?!? I texted back, with some alarm.


And he did have the flu (again!), so it was genuine. But he knew how to rope me in and get me over to the school office pronto.

There was no rambling plea to be picked up, no over-the-top descriptions of fever, chills, or muscle weakness…nothing. The starkness of the message was enough to get me in my minivan and over to the school.

I think some scenes do well with a minimalistic approach:

Action scenes are great places to put short, choppy sentences and very little description.

Scenes where you’re including a shock or surprise to a scene.

Scenes that play a very functional, set-up purpose. (And you might want to analyze whether you need a whole set-up scene to begin with.)

Descriptive scenes (which I’m not all that crazy about to begin with.) It’s a little boring when an author waxes poetic in their basic descriptions of weather, a spring day, a pretty lady, etc. Short and sweet and clear, I’m thinking.

Do you write sparsely the first time around or do you edit out the bloat later?