by Gina Burgess
When was the last time an author tortured you by a character’s incessant thoughts and dialogues about a problem? Did the author write well between the repetition of story points? How much did the redundant reiterations of recurring themes distract you from the story? To me, they are annoying, clanging reverberations–great distractions. Recapitulations add superfluous words to an article or book. They are echoes of a character’s status leaving the character and story in a rut. That kind of writing creates a staccato reading rhythm like rain dripping from the roof, and that means the story reads like a gray roof pattern with no roads or parking spaces to get to the living places.
It is as if the author put aside the work for a month or two and completely forgot that territory was already covered in chapter one, chapter four, and chapter seven. Why do I need to read this again in chapter eight? The author is the one that has stepped away, not the reader.
Do your editor, your reading public, and yourself a favor and organize your writing. Make a tic mark beside a character’s trait that you want to grow, then make it grow without having the character constantly think about it. Give the reader an emotion about the character’s problem not aggravation about the writing.
To write well, eliminate every word that does not drive your story forward.
Every author should write tightly, but not too tightly. Writing too tightly can lose the reader, so you need to be careful what to cut and what to leave and/or expound upon. Be married to the idea, not to the words. Some fat is good for flavor, but too much will glut the story and bore the reader.
Cut restatements such as words that say the same thing: sultry, humid afternoon, or rambunctious, unruly preschoolers.
Cut prepositional phrases that only repeat something obvious: in the city of, or in the book, or at the school of her choice. These just heap a heavier burden on the reader without doing anything to deepen the story flow or move it forward. She chose Chicago. Exchange that prepositional phrase for a verb and the story sails with the wind.
Nix the passive verb phrases such as seems to, would have to, which bogs down the story flow. Take those nouns and make them active verbs: reconsideration to reconsider, observation to observes. Remember limp noodles are only good in pasta dishes, not as passive words in a story.