by Tim Kane
Movies cost about $40 per minute. A director won’t waste time filming someone going into a new location only to pause and think. Or talk to someone for a few minutes. Or get in his car to leave for work. It costs too much and it’s not very interesting.
We all do this in our writing. We show every little thing our characters are doing.
James walked up to the dresser. He picked up the keys. Then he opened the garage door and got in the car. Starting it up, the engine purred.
Then the reader falls asleep. It’s overwriting. And plain not needed. Movies use jump cut to skip this sort of stuff, relying on the viewer to fill in the blanks. Authors can do the same with line breaks. That’s a line a white space between two paragraphs.
Here are some tips to write like a director and avoid overwriting.
Start by writing all those little things you need your character to do (like driving and getting coffee).
Choose Your Scenes
Now, think like a director. Which two or three scenes would you film? Remember the cost and pick the scenes with the most drama.
Okay, some of the stuff you cut out to make those scenes might be needed. The solution is simple. Alter reality. You’re the writer. It’s your world. You can twist reality. It worked in the film Inception. If there’s a bit of information from a previous (and now cut) scene, see if you can work it into the conversation. Worst case, have a flashback.
Next time you have a reader feeling like they want to put your book down, consider if you can cut away the trivial prose and zero in on the key action.