Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What I Learned From My Editor #1 - "TMI"

I started keeping a diary when I was nine years old. In the early days, the entries read something like this: "Went to school. Came home. Went to Brownies. Came home. Went to grandma's. Came home". When my mother, viewing this over my shoulder, asked me why I always put "came home" after every outing, I explained it was so anyone who might read it in future years wouldn't be misled into thinking I might have stayed at school all night. It made perfect sense to me at the time.

Working with my editor on what is to be my second published e-book, I am realising that some of that need to describe every detail is still with me. When my character gets in a car and drives, that's not what she does. She unlocks the car, opens the door, gets in, closes the door, puts on her seatbelt, puts the key in the ignition, turns it, puts her foot on the clutch and the brake, puts the car in first gear, takes foot off brake and onto accelerator... and so it goes.

What I have learned from my editor is that if my character gets into the car and drives away, all of the other details are already implied in that action. It seems that OCD part of me that felt the need to record the fact I came home from school every day when I was nine years old is still sometimes feeling the urge to list every action.

I am working with my editor on copy edits for DEATH SCENE. Many of her comments in the margin start with 'TMI' (or 'too much information').

I hope, despite appearances, it will eventually become evident I am taking her advice on board. One day there might be an occasion when she is editing a novel I have written since I have been working with her, and perhaps then she'll find fewer occasions to have to add 'TMI - condense' or 'can cut' in the margin.

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