Skip to content

Watchmaking

February 5, 2016
https://www.flickr.com/photos/57855544@N00/340654162, image by col_adamson, used under Creative Commons License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Anyone got tweezers?

So I’m revisiting an older novel of mine when I realize I have two, count them two, expository phone conversations between the same two and a half characters (it makes sense in context) in one chapter.

Well, that’s inefficient, I think. There must be a way of combining them.

So I pull them both out and start in. Except it becomes obvious after about ten seconds that there are two of them because they refer to two different events, separated by some distance, which happen to the parties on the phone. And at some point in the manuscript’s history, for some reason, I switched the order of the events.

For reference, this is like the writer’s version of that nightmare where you’re taking a final for a class you forgot to attend. And you have no pants. And the bats swooping down at you are quoting Milton.*

Cursing the inattentive author, I laid the triggering events, the conversations, and the transitions between them out in six different documents, like a watchmaker spreading the gears out on a cloth.

And when I finished, I had some gears left over. They must have been doing something, right? Or maybe not. To switch analogies, sometimes a sentence or an exchange in a conversation or even a whole paragraph is like one of those interstate exits out in the country that says: No Services. While this may accurately reflect real life, fiction is not journalism (though good journalism knows what is relevant to the story as well).

The superfluous passages that are trickier to spot (and I didn’t get this about the novel in question until I did my watchmaker imitation) are the ones that ARE doing something, but not something you need, at least not right there. To flip back to the interstate exit analogy, it’s like being low on gas and seeing exits that have food, lodging, camping, a hospital, a historic district, and a community theater–but which manage to be entirely devoid of gas stations.

And if there’s one thing you don’t want your story to do, it’s run out of gas.

*-Everyone has that dream, right?

 

Advertisements
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Paakhi Bhatnagar permalink
    February 13, 2016 2:28 am

    Hi! I read your story at One Teen Story (and that is how I came to know about your blog) and I just wanted to tell you that the story was amazing!

    • February 13, 2016 10:56 am

      Thank you! The most rewarding thing about storytelling is when someone comfirms your story was worthwhile.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Singing Stars & Shrieking Shadows

Stories and poetry of awe and horror, with reviews and commentary

Nicky Peacock - Author

Published author of YA and adult paranormal romance, horror, urban fantasy short stories, novellas and novels. On this site you'll find writing advice, information on my work, book reviews, author interviews and more...

Often Clueless, Always Shoeless

The Blog of Author Olivia Berrier

SouthernHerf

it's all just a matter of perspective...

Globe Drifting

Global issues, travel, photography & fashion. Drifting across the globe; the world is my oyster, my oyster through a lens.

keithgarrettpoetry

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Knite Writes

The Official Blog of Therin Knite

Buried Under Books

Tales of a former indie bookseller

Mary Robinette Kowal

The daily journal of a puppeteer and SF author.

Renea Mason

Visit http://reneamason.com for the latest info on Renea Mason

Words, Words, Words

Come write, and be inspired...

charlottecarrendar

~Weaving Words in her Web~

Daily (w)rite

A DAILY RITUAL OF WRITING

Eat, Sleep, Television

Watch as I amaze and astound with opinions about what TV shows I like!

tincantheory

ull new transflations -- Rosetta Stone hypothoses

%d bloggers like this: