Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We Don't Care About the Pie: Why Minutia in Storytelling is Bad

My associate and author Scott D. Roberts calls this too much exposition. I am a little simpler: I call it too much minutia. One of the biggest mistakes I see writers make is to bog down their writing in what Roberts aptly puts as too much exposition. What this means is that writers tell the reader everything and anything to "decorate" a description -- and it has absolutely nothing to do with storytelling. For example during a critical scene you start describing what the character is eating, how he/she enjoys it, and it has absolutely nothing to do with driving the story forward, then the real question is: why is that in there?

Ask this question for every scene: is it relevant to the plot?

If it's nothing but an interesting piece of fluff -- or your writer's ego enjoyed writing about the pie in the window that had nothing to do with the story, take it out. Every element of every scene or chapter should be a part of the story -- and it should drive the story forward. To create fast-paced storytelling, each chapter should always drive the next chapter and so on and so forth. Move through the scenes and don't get caught up in unimportant details. Unless the pie is poisoned and the character is going to die from it, we don't care about the pie.

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