Monday, September 2, 2013

Too Much Or Too Little And How Do You Know?

Courtesy of
So, I like to cook. It is a creative outlet for me although I admit to falling down on this a bit recently. Toddlers don't really like to experiment with food and I don't like cooking separate meals all the time so we've been eating like children lately. Or ordering out so someone else can cook separate meals. But, when I do cook, I enjoy it because I can combine and layer flavors and textures making something pleasing to the palette. Or, as my husband says, "Mmmmm! This is good! You can make this again."

I like knitting too because I can combine knits with purls to add texture and patterns. Throw in different color yarns and make stripes. Make cables too and Celtic knots. My goal is to learn Nordic patterns (yikes!). I know what you're thinking. You live in the south, you don't need sweaters and mittens. No, but I have family up there. Besides, an Irish sweater or Nordic sweater just plain looks cool.

Needlepoint and embroidery is fun for me too. Same reasons - different color yarns, different materials (wool or floss), different stitches. All yield different textures and patterns.

As you all know, I have also been editing and revising my novel. There was a horrible error that was caught by one of my beta readers. Terrible, but no big deal really (now that the twitching has stopped). I'll just move some chapters around and alter a few things. The important thing is that it was caught and can be corrected! Yay!

But the one thing that has me scratching my head is more about editing than revising. I have had some readers say they like certain things, and others say they don't like it. I've read blogs and editing resources that say don't do this, but then in just about every book I've read or am currently reading, it's there.

I'm not talking about too many or redundant adverbs. He shouted loudly. Duh, how else do you shout? I'm not talking about asides - he thought to himself. Well, who else do you think to? I'm not talking about weird physical things (although I've seen this in many professionally published books) - her eyes followed him down the street. No, her gaze, stare, glance can follow, but not her eyes.

I'm talking about what's called "stage direction." You know, telling what the character is doing. I get that we don't need to know that the character opened the refrigerator door, reached in, pulled out a beer and opened it. He lifted it to his mouth and drank deep gulps, downing the beverage in a matter of seconds. Simply saying he downed a beer may be enough. I agree, that that much detail is too much. But, I've had some readers say they like to know what the character is doing (downing the beer) and others say, cut it all out. Which is right?

I can't "taste" it to see if there is too much salt or "feel" it for too loose or tight stitches. When do you know what to cut and what to keep? If I cut too much, will the story now be a little stiff? If I don't cut enough, will it be trite? I guess I'll just have to make that decision on my own.

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