I find myself following this advice a lot while editing and re-writing Mesh. Many areas of writing seem to lead to interesting places, but readers get bogged down. How do you find the balance between showing and telling in a novel? Here are some handy ideas that I have found useful, and you may find useful, too:
Murder Your Darlings
Nobody cares. Nobody cares that your protagonist only shops at Whole Foods, enjoys Gilbert & Sullivan or uses Mont Blanc pens. This is a book, not a catalog. If you retain details at the cost of reader attention, you have failed. Kill, murder, destroy your darlings. Now re-write.
Good Writing Never Dies
What you’ll find as you murder, is that your writing and the details do in fact belong in your story, just not where you thought they did. Hold onto old scenes, drafts, and versions. Interesting little tidbits will find their way back in. Simplify, focus, and combine. Just as William Gibson is famous for telling a novel’s worth of story in a single paragraph, you can do the same. You’re doing something right if your beta readers come back saying “that was really cool, I’d like to see that developed.”
Everyone has a ‘lifehack’ for writing. Everybody has a ‘surefire way.’ Everyone has a process. Everybody knows what you should do. Guess what? None of that matters. You’re the one behind the keyboard. Writing, like any other art, is personal. Decide for yourself what your world looks like, what words you use and what process you follow.
So there you have it – three handy tips for writing from me and the folks over at Pixar.
What are you still doing here?
You have writing to do.