Less is More, But So is Less #ROW80

Overall Goal: Figure out my writing process

Goal Pieces:

1. Read more books in my genre.

2. Read more books on craft and apply the lessons to my writing.

So, on the applying lessons front, I worked on a scene and broke apart everything the characters were doing until I had a series of single motivations followed by reactions. It forced me to be more descriptive. Rather than my character being simply appalled by the crime scene, I was more specific with actions all related to being appalled. I think it made for a more vivid scene.

In addition, I worked on making the point of my scene clearer which has been a problem of mine. After years of hearing we shouldn’t bog our stories down with too much description, I suppose I took the advice to far. Cool things do happen in my scenes, but if only I know why they’re so cool, I’ve failed to keep the reader interested. I’m still working on the happy medium, but at least I’m more aware of the weak spots.

That’s all for now. I’ll get into my genre reading for the next update.

20 comments on “Less is More, But So is Less #ROW80

  1. Great start for the week Andrew! I like your focus on both reading and applying the lessons. I have reading a novel and craft book as part of my goals as well to keep a focus on learning. Good luck for the rest of the week.

  2. Andrew, I think it’s fantastic that you’re using ROW80 as a process-discovery tool. I believe that there is NOTHING more important for a writer than understanding their own process. Kudos to you…and it sounds like your new scenes are rocking the house. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Sounds like the self learning is going well, once I’ve done all my planning I’m hoping to do a similar thing before beginning the 2nd, enjoy your day.

  4. As someone who wants to start showing more in her writing and telling less, I might just have to steal your technique of breaking things down as you’ve described here, Andrew. It sounds like a great way to really explore things from that aspect. Plus, it could just be downright interesting.

    Sounds like things are off to a good start! Exploring how we write can sometimes be as fun as the writing itself. Looking forward to hearing more about how it’s going for you, and best of luck with the rest of the week!

  5. Show vs. Tell is a huge issue for me. After years of being told to cut out description, I’m slowly learning to add *some* of it back. Good luck!

  6. “…but if only I know why they’re so cool…”
    You are so on your way!

  7. You’re really thinking about this! That’s going to help you when you are making the changes that need to be made.

    That thing about more description vs. less description? It’s very hard to find that happy medium. The biggest reason is because I’ve had books I’ve written where one person said there was too much description and another person said there’s not enough. In the SAME book. So who do you trust to tell you the truth? The answer for you is Susan and Kait! LOL. I think the key is to make the description as interesting as possible and not go overboard on describing every little thing. Yeah, I know…easier said than done. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Specific is good. The thing to remember about “too much description” is that you can always edit it out. Sometimes it’s good to write more of it in — put in more detail so you can explore some options, and then cut back to the best details.

    (I say this as a person who tends to write a scene first in dialog-only. Each of us has our own “raw draft” style. Some of us may need to hear “not so much description!” but others need to hear “Add more description, I feel like I’m hearing a radio play!”)

  9. I love your overall goal and that is how I feel – I need to figure out how I go about this writing thing!

  10. @Barbara- It’s definitely the most effective way for me to learn. Reading straight facts never worked well for me. But reading and applying followed by feedback hits the learning on all sides and makes stuff STAY IN MY HEAD.

    It’s great you have craft in your goals. I think no matter what level you’re at, there’s always something new to learn.

    @Jenny- Thanks! I feel like I’m at that stage in a new job where they tell you you’ll be in training for six months before actually starting the job. I’m not sure how long my training will last, but I won’t feel comfortable tackling a full book until I do.

    @Katy- That’s great, Katy! I hope it proves at fruitful as it is for me.

    @L.S.- My favorite way to “show” more is dialogue. If you do it right, it delivers a lot of information to the reader in a very natural way. Susan and I have chatted about this before and she thinks some readers skim or skip narration to get to what they really want . . . dialogue. Of course you don’t want everything to be dialogue. It’s a balancing act for sure.

  11. Yup, less is definitively less lol
    There are few craft books that talk about this. Most try to tell us we shouldn’t overdescribe, over this, over that, but then, when you try to get it all down, you might get too much and that is also not good.
    The difficult part is to find the right amount … and there’s no way to learn that from a book, since there are many variables (your genre, the word count, the tone and voice, etc).
    I’m glad you’re being able to absorb and learn with craft books ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. @wolf- Yeah, it’s tough to get a point when you’re so close to the material. The key is to give it to someone else who knows nothing about it and ask them what they think the point of the scene was. If he/she missed key elements, then it’s back to the drawing board. We’ll get there!

    @Susan- See? You know just how to motivate me.

    @LL- I guess it comes down to knowing what you enjoy your favorite books and finding people who can help you achieve that because we all have different reading expectations.

    I think I’ll start referring to Susan and Kait collectively as K & S Inc. The hook, courtesy of Susan: “We’ve seen it all, so get over yourself and drop trou.”

    @Camille- Oh, I love dialogue. If I ruled the world all characters would talk in a vacuum. Who needs setting? Who needs description? Apparently everyone, hence me scratching my head trying to get it right.

    Great idea about having excess description for later editing. I certainly have that covered on the dialogue front.

  13. Andrew, I think your approach is great and actually I liked the blurb of your WIP. Hopefully, we’ll see how you integrate the two. Best of luck.

  14. Good job on your week so far, Andrew. I think working on your scene is important. Less is more, but one of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received: it’s much easier to cut than to add in later. Good luck!

  15. Excellent – Take lots of notes and keep on applying it to your writing. That’s what I’m doing right now as well.

  16. Sounds great! I’ve been working on keeping my goals smaller and more reasonable. It helps hugely.

  17. Sounds to me like you’re working on conveying subtext without telling too much. As human beings, we give away subtext all the time with body language, displacement activity, speech patterns, etc. Remember, only 7/9ths of an iceberg is visible on the surface–the rest of it is always underneath, much bigger than one expects, and lying in wait for your unsuspecting characters!

    Good luck this week!

  18. @KH- Thanks about my approach and blurb!

    @Stacey- Yes, you’re the second comment to offer that suggestion. It’s a great idea.

    @Robin- That’s the plan. I hope your studying is going as well as mine.

    @Sonia- Yes. When the goal is too big my head explodes like in Mars Attacks.

    @Cate- Thanks! I have a bigger problem with not telling enough. When I read one of my scenes, it make perfect sense. But it’s because I’m adding information from memory to fill in the blanks. The reader doesn’t have that luxury, so I’m going to take Camille and Stacey’s advice and over describe and trim later.

    I like your iceberg analogy. Paints a great picture of how I should tackle description.

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