Thursday, September 30, 2010

Get to the GOOD Stuff!

It was 92 degrees here at 5pm this evening. At 6, I heard what I thought was rolling like trash cans on pavement. I thought to myself, "Why are the neighbors taking their trash cans out today? It's only Wednesday!" Turns out it wasn't trash cans.

It was Wednesday's granting of my first wish! The clouds had rolled in, the thunder had started and by 6:30pm, we had RAIN!

Now to the GOOD stuff...

I'm in the middle of revisions. I got some great feedback from my small critique group at the Writer's Retreat. As you can tell from my blog, I tend to be looooong winded. I can make a story go on forever. I get that from my mom. Here's an example of a phone conversation with my mom:

Mom: You'll NEVER guess who I ran into at WalMart today.
Me: Who?
Mom: I was getting a birthday card for your Aunt Alice. Her birthday is next Tuesday. Did you get her a card yet?
Me: Not yet. I will.
Mom: Don't forget this year. You forgot last year and it really hurt her feelings.
Me: I didn't forget. I sent a belated card.
Mom: Well, I'm giving you plenty of warning this year. Get one tomorrow and get it in the mail.
Me: Who did you run into, Mom?
Mom: Oh, right. I was in the bedding section. Wait, why was I in bedding? Oh, that's right, I got a new pillow cover for the guest room.
Me: MOM!
Mom: What? You were miserable the last time you were down here. I wanted to make sure I had the right stuff for this visit. Do you think I should replace the air filter?
Mom: Alrightalready! You are SO impatient! I ran into Cindy (lastnamewithheld).
Me: How many kids does she have?
Mom: None. She's in your little club.
Me: I have a club now?
Mom: You know what I mean - still single, no children.

My mom ran into a classmate of mine and you see how long it took her to get to the actual name of the person. This is every conversation with her. You have to rush her along, God love her (and He does, I assure you, the woman is a total saint).

When I write, I can sometimes channel my mother. Instead of getting right to the name of the person I ran into, I mention everything about the trip to the store, someone's birthday, why I bought a new pillow cover, and so on and so on. This was the biggest knock on my writing. People wanted more of the story...faster. I was spending too much time on details. I want to describe the beautiful forest. And describe it. And describe it. Did I tell you that she's in a forest? But did I describe it for you? Well, just in case you missed it, here's more description for you!

I have two characters who "sizzle" when they are together. I need to get to them faster.

Those fairies? Need to make another appearance before they currently do.

See, not bad stuff. I can't tell you how many times I've read published books and just had to page ahead to get to the GOOD stuff in those written pages! I couldn't stand it another second. Because I loved the characters so much, I wanted them together sooner. I loved the story so much, I couldn't wait to see what happened next. (Yes, my mother is right - I can be impatient)

Critiques can be scary, but in the end they make our writing better. Stronger. Tighter.

They loved my story. They wanted more of it. Very exciting.

I grabbed my word wacker this week and started in on those pages, wacking away the extra words. Getting to the GOOD stuff...quicker!

It's already tighter. By the end of the week, I'll have enough shaved that I will then be able to get to the fun part - punching up that story, enhancing characters, adding nuisances. Fun fun FUN!

What about you - do you write too much? Too little? How quickly do you get to the GOOD stuff?


  1. Haha, that was funny, but at least you're aware of it! I'm not that long-winded (I think, hehe), I rather have the opposite problem of not writing long enough...

  2. My conversations with my mom run something like that too, funny how moms are like that. I'm sure your story will be much stronger after you whack. As for how quickly I get to the good stuff - well the guy jumps from a skyscraper in the first ten pages so I guess that's pretty early!

  3. I tend to write too little (probably because I'm in a rush to get to the good stuff and I sometimes forget the reader isn't seeing the whole 3D, surround-sound, smell-o-ramma that I'm experiencing).

    Sounds like you're embracing the critique instead of rejecting it. That's an awesome skill. Enjoy your revisions!

  4. HA! My mom's the same way about rambling. It's funny when I'm not in a hurry or need to get off the phone.

    Good luck on your revisions! I page ahead to when things get too descriptive and the story stops for it. At least you KNOW you have that to work on, right?

  5. Oh, such a sweet post. Glad your writing is going well :)

    I'm an overwriter in parts and an underwriter elsewhere. Still trying to balance out.

  6. Harry Crews said it best, when he said (in talking about how he writes): "I try to leave out the parts people skip."

    Great post!

  7. I'm an over-writer in some ways and an under-writer in others. In revisions I cut a lot, but I also flesh out a lot too.

    I'm glad you enjoyed your writer's retreat! Would love to do that someday.