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Show Me the Story (Overuse of Detail) ~ by Dennis Young

One thing I always tell beginning writers; don't bog the story down with unnecessary descriptions of your characters, their attire, their accouterments, or their surroundings. Show me the story. You can work in a detail here and there about all these things but readers don't want to be taken out of the story by a couple of paragraphs describing the wizard's workshop, or the hero's armor, or the heroine's huge.... tracts of land (Monty Python reference there, in case you don't know).

Show me the story; leave most of the descriptions to the readers' imaginations. Lots of dialogue, because people, you know, talk. Action (that doesn't mean blow stuff up, it means move the story along).

Action can be two characters walking down a deserted street having a conversation. Action can be running from the bad guys, or chasing the bad guys, or, if you're a bad guy, running from the good guys. Action can be "all hands to battle stations" and the ensuing chaos. Action can be gestures, glances, embraces, tears, wild uninhibited passions set free.

Show me the story. Engage me. Put me in the scene with the characters. Make me a character! Make me feel what they are feeling; sweat, tension, fear, anger, sadness, pleasure beyond description.

Don't tell me what they're wearing to the prom; show me the prom.

Save every draft. Write the draft, make changes in a different color, then save that draft, changes and all. Don't delete; strike-through, then write the new text. Save the draft. Then save it again as the next draft, clean up the changes, and you have a clean draft to continue the story with. And you have every change saved in the order it was made.

I write my first draft, then make changes in red. Save it as first draft.

Save it again as second draft, clean up the changes by taking out the strike-through text, and leave the revised text in red. Now I have a clean second draft.

Repeat as necessary using a different color for the changes in each draft.

I have the following stages of my writing:

Remember your stories are about people, not characters. People grow and change, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Actions affect us, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually. Courage is never easy to come by and can be crushed in a moment or lifted above adversity.

The people in your stories have feelings just like you and me; they'll tell you what they want to do and why they should do it. Listen to them, listen to the music of the story, the way it moves, the way it breathes. If you've read a lot, you know a great story has a life of its own; breathe life into your story by becoming the people in it and listening to their hearts and minds.

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