Things are going pretty well now, aren’t they? Your story is developing, your characters are getting nice and round — but if you’re anything like myself, there’s one pebble-in-the-shoe that’s just driving you just the tiniest bit insane. Between what’s in your head and what’s on paper, something odd happens — something that turns amazingly creative ideas into rather underwhelming reads.
As always: you’re not alone. It’s one thing to come up with an amazing story, but getting that story across as intended is a whole different skillset indeed. There’s a lot to talk about, so I’ve got another video for you:
Now, there are as many writing styles as there are writers, and finding yours is mostly a process of trial and error. Still, a basic rule of thumb is to treat your words as a precious resource, and spend them only on things that are truly important to your story. When we first start out, we often fear the reader’s going to miss what we’re trying to say, and so we double down on every single minuscule detail. While that very occasionally helps avoid confusion, much more often it makes your story come to a grinding, agonizing halt.
You’d be amazed at how good your readers are at connecting the dots; how you can give them just a few key descriptions and their minds will happily fill in the rest. This means that in writing, less is often more — and most forms of editing are done with a proverbial machete. So here’s what I want you to do:
Go back to your first scene. Cut out everything that isn’t essential for your reader to know.
Don’t hold back. You’ll probably cut out a little bit more than you should, but that’s perfectly fine — the point is to show you just how much can be said between the lines. Whether it’s awkward scene transitions, a millionth careless shrug or the exact angle of someone’s crooked nose: trust your readers to fill in the dull parts, and use your page space for what moves the story forward.
When you’ve cleaned and stored away your machete, I’ll be waiting in the next lesson.
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