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?


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. :)