Story Essential means every word counts. Every word moves your tale forward. Nothing is included just because you like the way it sounds, the way it feels—its literary bells chiming in the chapel.
But here’s another way to look at this concept. It’s math, so brace yourself.
- The average page contains 200-250 words. We’ll settle on 240 for convenience.
- It takes the average person one minute to read one page.
- That means every second your reader will have read four words (240 / 60 = 4).
- Four words per second.
- Ten seconds go by and your reader has read forty words.
Here’s the kicker: Those forty words, WERE THEY WORTH THOSE 10 SECONDS OF READER’S TIME?
A whole minute goes by—a page—two hundred and forty words. Was every one of those words necessary? Did you waste any of the readers time with filler, do-nothing description or extraneous dialog that has nothing to do with enticing the reader to read the next page?
Story Essential means winnowing your narrative until no extraneous words burn reading time.
A starving reader craves story sustenance. A bloated one dismisses it.
For my workshop, I’ve been focusing on ground level mechanics, the tactical aspects of writing. It’s been pointed out that there’s another aspect which bears mentioning that, although not mechanics, ties in with the burgeoning writer: what to write.
I’m not talking about subject matter, any prompt of your own device or source (http://writingexercises.co.uk/create-a-setting.php or https://blog.reedsy.com/plot-generator/) will do. Specifically, I’m referring to what you see and hear in your mind when you portray your story’s settings and characters.
I skim over this concept in the workshop’s Writer’s Wrules, but essentially, becoming scene “in tune”, early on when one is learning to write, may help avoid difficult to shake habits that expose a writer as a noob: Info dumping, excessive description, disingenuous dialog, exhaustive soliloquies, or rambling character speeches, etc.
Immersing one’s imagination in the scene and extracting the essential details, the emotive ques that personify the moment—that trick, learned early on, will enhance the quality of narrative and propel a writer’s work up the levels scale.