02 April 2012

Stuff and Revision

It's been quiet around here, as in here on the blog not here in my life. Life has kept me busy with family stuff, kids' school stuff, and general life stuff. My 3rd grader, as well as her teacher, would gasp in horror if they saw all the times I used the word stuff rather than descriptive wording. But sometimes you just gotta use those words.

But not in writing a novel. No, not in a novel. Or at least not often.

Now that I've finished mashing my outlines for my novel, I'm back to revising. (One day, I'll finish this dang story. Honest.) I've gone back to the start of the story, making sure that the story fits with this new outline, changing the plot as needed. In doing so, I've realized that I've minimized the stuff in the story. If I wrote a detail in, it's because gives a clue to the story, to the characters and their outlook.

I've been thinking how I use detail and stuff for the past few days. My husband started to read one of my favorite books, and commented that the author spends more time developing her characters than I do. While I strive to deliver a story that sticks to readers like hers do, I'm not sure that I want to write like her. She likes detail. Me, I'm not such a detail person, I'd rather read/write dialogue or action. When I said as much to my husband, he shot me a wry glance; between the two of us, I'm definitely the detail person. So maybe, that's an avenue for me to consider: adding more details.

My gut reaction is to ignore that consideration. But it's really not about me, is it? It's about the story's need. It certainly doesn't need details for the sake of bloat, but to make the story colorful and lively, to keep the reader from putting the story down, to leave the reader wanting more.

So, I'll keep my gut reaction in check, and add a sticky note to my laundry list of things to watch for while revising, and see how it goes. And, hopefully comments from the beta readers will help me gauge how well I've managed that balance.


LJCohen said...

I struggle with description as well, especially in the first drafts. I have this annoying tendency to have talking heads in black boxes, as a friend of mine calls it. :)

Anne Velosa said...

If only things did happen in black boxes ... now there's a thought for a short story.