Lesson #2: Common Errors

04-07-16 Writer 0 comment


To go beyond and provide additional information that helps completing the landscape might be interesting; even fun. Most of the time, however, it slows down the reading, stops the action and is based on things that the reader might not even find as entertaining as the writer might think.

When the story works and takes a certain rhythm the reader will be eager to move forward in the plot. When you give up to your Bret Easton Ellis complex, describing mineral watermarks or recalling the origin of Huey Lewis and the News, the reader loses track and cools down.

If you succeed and the rhythm and structure of your novel are made to include this kind of divergence, it might work. But you need to be concise and it would help if it was fun as well. If it is not intentional, better to avoid it.

On the other hand, providing too little information causes:


Assuming something is already known

When reviewing the second or third draft, the writer already knows everything there is to know about the world he has created and the characters that inhabit it. This knowledge makes certain things to seem obvious when actually they are not.
Personal knowledge might make some scenarios, unclear to the reader, to appear logic. Character motivation, the reason why they behave a given way, might be in the writer’s mind but not in the text. The information might have been deleted from the first draft but the knowledge makes the writer think that it is still there. This is easy to solve because the first person reading the story will not understand what is going on.


Intentional vagueness
In order to make certain things appear mysterious and intriguing, the writer is tempted to provide too little information about them.

Holding information is a valid and effective resource to keep the reader on the hook but there is a limited amount of times a question can be asked before the reader demands an answer.

There is nothing wrong in fostering an intrigue, in creating the need to seek answers; this is an important part of storytelling but a mystery cannot be forced upon without development. This makes the character seeking this fragmented information seem foolish and the reader could start thinking he is losing his time.


A character goes away to do something that has nothing to do with the story; you just need him to get out for some time. It does not matter what he does, it is not related to the story; why losing time narrating it then?

Because the reader does not know this, he thinks everything that is written is important. Including trivial events with no other reason but to fill pages creates, more than a distraction, frustration.

If something is as important as to be mentioned, it has to be relevant. If something is not relevant to the story being told it is not even worth mentioning.

At this point I think it is better to have too much information than too little. It is not the ideal but if we provide too much information the reader will at least know what is going on; even if some of them end up skipping paragraphs.  If we provide too little information, whenever the reader feels lost or confused he will quit the book altogether thinking: yes, this might make sense at the end but, who wants to deal with another two hundred pages to find out?