Monday, February 23, 2009

How to Say Something without Saying It

I started perusing this book review to see if I'd like to buy the book, but the review itself turned out to be a treasure of its own. In it, Brandon Barr points out in excerpts how the author tells the reader without writing too much.
Overstreet keeps to the action in the paragraph. He could have easily stopped at several points and dallied over some distraction...for instance...

Inside the well a rope is bound to an iron ring. She seizes it and feels resistance. Persisting, she pulls until a sturdy bucket appears.

Let's look at what he DIDN'T do:

Inside the beautiful well a rope is bound to an iron ring. Her eyes narrow on the familiar object. She seizes it and feels resistance. "There's something down there!" she says aloud and smiles. Persisting, she pulls with all her strength until a sturdy bucket appears.
I know I have a tendency to write like the second example, but I'm struck by how much more powerful the simpler version is.

Brandon goes into two more examples, one on setting and another on character development. It's a fascinating study on how to let fewer words tell the greater story.

3 comments:

Jen said...

Let few words tell the greater story. I love that sentence! Twill be my mantra as I seek to finish my book.

Anonymous said...

www.sayitwithoutsayingit.com

Anonymous said...

http://www.sayitwithoutsayingit.com