Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Tired of Salads? Try Cannibalism!
You're probably thinking: "This girl is seriously off her bonkers!"
And maybe I am. Still, I believe it's what keeps me interesting ;) Admit it--you love me!
I am like that cherry atop your sundae...the cream in your cream soup...the slightly damaged can of of mystery meat you get half off at the supermarket...the nose hairs that come out painlessly. Ah yes. Sweet bliss!
But back to the title of this blog. (Having just re-read that, I now realize that nobody is going to want to have dinner at my house ever again!) I'm really speaking figuratively. I don't endorse cannibalism unless you happen to be born into one of those tribes in the Amazon.
The meat I'm talking about is the stuff that your book is made of. The filling, so to speak. Details, details, details. The part where your characters are fleshed out, back story is presented, and the world in your mind comes to life on paper. There is nothing that bothers me more than reading a book where the author fails to incorporate these things. Or they try, and it still comes out dry. Sometimes it feels as though they simply took their outline and added a few things here and there, named the characters, picked a cover and then called it a novel.
The thing is, you can't just do an outline of a story and then think that's all the work you have to do. I received an email from someone that went like this:
--After getting some nasty critique from someone on ****, about my writing having too much detail, I started writing my book all over again. I took out the parts I thought were too much and a lot of the back story. But by the time I got to the third chapter, it didn't look anything at all like my book! It was missing so much. I'm so mad right now. How much detail is too much? Maybe I shouldn't have listened to that person.
This really bothered me. First of all, said critic should have known better than to leave rude comments about someone's writing. I really hate when that happens because the result is usually that writer feeling inadequate. Unworthy. As for the part about details, when is it too much? When is it that things get too wordy?
Since this is not my strong suit, I will be asking a friend to post a blog about it on her site. So please keep an eye out for it. Until then, all I can offer is this...
As far as details go, you never want to overpower the story you're trying to get across with the little things. Like the color of the walls or the little crack at the bottom of the door. Unless they are important to the story...Unless they drive the plot forward in some way. It's just fine to describe the characters, their mannerisms, and their past. Of course! Your readers need to know those things in order to understand what drives them. That's what makes the story. But there is a line between just enough and too much.
For example. If I were telling you a story about something I realized the other day and somewhere in the middle I stop and say:
My daughter told me the gym smells like someone's butt after they pass gas. (Not that eloquently LOL)
I really don't like it when she announces in the middle of a department store that she needs to use the bathroom to poop.
What will you think? It would confuse the hell out of you, of course. Plus, it has nothing to do with the original subject. It's just...random. You don't want stuff like that in your book.