Monday, September 04, 2006

The Nice to Know and the Need to Know

One of my writing friends insists that the most important thing writers can do is separate the "nice to know" from the "need to know." That is, it might be nice to know what color dress the heroine is wearing, and that she took the time to put on her favorite perfume that morning, but all we really need to know is that she didn't have time to finish her laundry so she's stuck wearing her granny pants on the day she finally meets - or beds - Mr. Right.

Well, shoot.

I posted this lovely chapter a couple of weeks ago, for one of my writers' groups, a scene with my heroine and her friend. Thought their conversation was conflict-rich, their actions revealing of their inner emotions, and was ready to move on to the next chapter when one of the group said, "Well, it's a nice chapter overall, but all those little mundane details about the characters? Not really needed."


Of course he was right, when I went back and looked at it. I think I've gotten better at separating the two, though it's still hard sometimes. I'm about halfway through a 3rd revision of my latest WIP and am finding a lot of small sections of "nice to know." I delete them and realize that the chapter is not the least bit lacking once they're gone. Of course, this is also cutting down on the length of the work, which right now is around 85K words when I'd really like it to be around 90K for a mainstream novel. Ah, well. I'm getting into the heavy conflict soon, so I can probably throw some more at my characters and see how they deal with it.

Poor things.

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