On Being of Few Words


“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

E.L. Doctorow

* * *

“Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.”

Hunter S. Thompson

* * *

“Don’t say in 3,000 words what could have been said in 600.”

Robin Henry

I’m sharing these quotes, because these are things that my advisor has told me I need to work on.  His biggest pet peeve is that every word, every piece of punctuation, every bit of information MUST MATTER.  I have always been concerned about writing enough words.  It is something previous teachers have told me: I get into an idea and then just stop; I need to expound on these.  With NaNoWriMo, I’ve trained myself to use lots and lots of words, in some case, as many words as I can possibly use to get an idea across including lots of description, which has really helped with that problem, but now I’m working on being more concise and clear.  There is a balance between too many words and too few and I am struggling to find that.  An image may be perfectly clear in my head, but when I put it on paper, it isn’t the same.  My readers can’t see what I see.  But if I explain too much, then I’m not trusting my readers to understand and feel the story on their own, which is part of the wonderful experience that is reading a book.  I’m working on finding the right words—words that show the reader what I’m seeing in my head, what my characters are feeling, without dragging down the story.  It’s a battle and I’m afraid I’m not gaining any ground.



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