Friday, December 21, 2018

Don’t Circle the Wagons

…and don’t beat around the bush.  (Okay, maybe I should also mention not using clichés, but that’s not what this is about.)

Here’s what it IS about, a sentence I read last week in a book that shall remain nameless.

“He started to light the fire.” 

He started?  Did he scrape a match on sandpaper?  Did he flick his Bic?  Did he rub two sticks together?  Is he amorous?  I had no clue. Yes, of course I understood what the author was saying and given the context of the sentence within the paragraph and chapter I even knew there was kindling and a fire pit involved, but the opportunity to be specific about the main character’s action was completely lost, so whatever the author envisioned for that moment was also lost.

Was it important?  Turns out, it was.  His lighting the fire was a precursor for things to come. 

Don’t circle around what you want to say; come out and say it directly. Help your reader move through the story effortlessly and without "starting" distractions.

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