Please check back for regular updates and announcements for Florida Christian Writers Conference. If you are not yet receiving email updates and blog posts, please join our email list using the button in the header bar. 

See you next year!

Newest Blog

Lose the Parts Reader Skip
Friday, August 26, 2016
Dan Walsh

 

We’ve all done it. You’re reading a novel that’s captured your interest and, before long, you find yourself skipping several paragraphs to find “where the story picks up again.” The writer writes well. That’s not the problem. The problem is they write too much. Sprinkled throughout the interesting, exciting parts you find a lot of blah-blah-blah.

Like you, my life is pretty busy. When I get to read fiction, I do it to be refreshed and entertained. If a book has too much blah-blah-blah, I put it down for good. Guess what I don’t do after that? I don’t recommend it to others and, likely, won’t buy another book from this author. Neither of these are good things.

My novels have received hundreds of customer reviews on Amazon. One of the most consistent comments I get (and one of the most encouraging) is: “I couldn’t put your book down.” That’s the reaction an author wants from readers, no matter what genre you write in.

Readers who feel this way about your book, will tell others about it and buy your other books. If you’re not published yet, agents and editors will offer you contracts.

As I look back I realize that some, if not a good deal of my success, ties back to my favorite writing quote by the late NY Times bestselling author, Elmore Leonard:

“In your writing, try to leave out the parts readers skip.”

I latched onto his advice when I first started writing and have followed it ever since, not just when I write but especially when I edit my work. Here are 3 practical tips I’ve learned about getting rid of the parts readers skip before sending in your manuscript.

1. See Research as a Spice, not a Main Ingredient

Whether we write historical fiction or contemporary, research is a part of our writing life. We should be devoted to it if our stories are going to come across with relevance and credibility. But our tendency is to imagine that all these fascinating details will be as interesting to our readers as they are for us. It’s not true. Really, it’s not. Figure that 90% of your research will be blah-blah-blah to your readers. You spent all that time to find the 10% you put into your book.

2. Descriptions? We Don’t Need No Steenking Descriptions

We are writing books for people who live today, not fifty years ago. We live in a video/visual generation. Most of our readers have watched hundreds if not thousands of movies and TV shows. Most of the words we write describing locations or what our characters look like are wasted. After a few lines our readers have already formed pictures in their heads and skip past everything else we say.

3. Resist Over-Explaining

At a social gathering, have you ever found yourself stuck in the gravitational pull of someone who talks too much? Don’t you hate that? Sadly, many writers suffer from the same malady. Not with our speech but our pen.

Say what needs to be said well, but only once. Resist the urge to explain the same thing over and over again to your readers in different ways. It’s all just blah-blah-blah. As writers, we need to see the cutting room floor as our good friend.

Think of it this way: the words lying there on the floor after you edit needed to be written so the better words could find their way. That’s the only thing that should wind up in our manuscript, the better words.

 

 

Dan Walsh is a bestselling author of 15 novels including The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery and When Night Comes. He has won 3 Carol Awards (finalist 6 times), 3 Selah Awards and 3 of his books have been finalists for RT Review’s Inspirational Book of the Year. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers International, Dan writes fulltime in the Daytona Beach area. He and his wife Cindi have been married 39 years. You can find out more about his books or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Pinterest from his website, www.danwalshbooks.com.