Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Respecting Readers


I'm coming to the conclusion that I must think readers are stupid. This is not intentional, but as I'm writing, I often find myself wanting to clarify something, just for good measure, to make sure that the reader is on the same page as I am. As a reader, when I'm reading a book, I've sometimes felt indignant at an author explaining something that of course I already knew. Yes, I do this all the time!

Thankfully, my crit partner is so great on helping me find the portions of my WIP where I do this so I can take them out. I'll clarify a smug look or smirk that the reader already would understand from the strength of the dialogue or prose. She always writes, "Stronger without" in the track change comment section. And I reread it and totally agree. Sometimes, a little needs to be left to the imagination, as well. It's no fun if the author reveals every nuance the character is thinking.

I guess the old adage of less is more applies here. Every time I write just that tad bit more, it weakens the overall product. I can't tell how many 100s of words here and there I've eliminated because they were unnecessary! Too telling, too redundant...whatever.

Question for you: Have any of you writers experienced this revelation? Not that we think readers are really stupid, but we just want to give them a little nudge in the direction we want them to go rather than the direction the book can take them on their own?

3 comments:

Patricia W. said...

This is something I'm working on too, Jeannie.

Jody Hedlund said...

YES! I really struggle with this issue. Because I want to get deeper into my character's internal issues and emotions, I find myself telling what's going on with them and then repeating it later! And I know I shouldn't have told it in the first place, much less repeated it! It's really hard not to do.

Katie said...

Excellent post and great reminder! Every time I write "stronger without" I remind myself that I have the same problem! Less is definitely more. :)