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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Editing tips - Just the facts, Ma'am

Just the Facts, Ma’am

It’s so easy to become wrapped up in the interesting facts in your research for your novel or short story. Yes, often I need to do research for a short story, too. The danger is not only spending time on the research rather than writing, but also in extracting too much information. Yes, it’s fascinating, but is it all pertinent to the story and the characters? Does it help move the story forward? Probably not.

Of course, this doesn’t stop some authors who commit that annoying sin of lumbering their readers with the dreaded ‘infodump’ – literally, paragraph upon paragraph of fact, information gleaned during research that the author considers so interesting that you’re bound to want to know all about it too.

Sure, some bestsellers do it – but you aren’t a bestseller, so be kind to your reader and avoid falling into the infodump trap. Really, infodumping is lazy writing. Be circumspect with the research details you use.
Naturally, you want to divulge the pertinent facts in some manner. Not as cold author intrusive text. Preferably via character exposition, and not directly in the narrative. Even here, you have to tread carefully. Some authors think if they disguise their infodump text in dialogue, it will be all right. Not so. It still seems stilted, unreal and declares that the author was too indolent to weave the research material into the fabric of the story.

- Extract from Write a Western in 30 Days (p22)

'Morton has a brilliant way of condensing a great deal of information into manageable junks without sacrificing clarity or content. The resulting book works both as master class and as a refresher course.' - review, September 2013.

'This has to be the best book about writing I've read for ages, even if the title is a misnomer. It should be 'Write a Novel in 30 Days', as it covers all the key aspects beginner writers need to know about the skill of writing any novel, not just Westerns. I have recently completed my first book and wish I'd had this to hand when I started! Excellent; full of easily digestible tips.' - review, July 2013.

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