Monday, April 26, 2010

Wondering and Watching

Several months ago when I queried my monsterous 180K novel I got a form rejection on my full manuscript less than 24 hours after sending it in. Being new to the game I wasn't about to accept a form rejection on a full. I mean, their okay for a query but for a full? I want more than that. So I snapped off a polite email asking what specifically didn't pass the muster. I got similarliy formal response about how the writing didn't "grab" him and that the business is "subjective". Yada yada yada. But then something caught my attention.

He said that there was a lot of "wondering" and "watching" going on.

Huh? I was kinda stuck by that. Well yeah, people watch and people wonder - what's the big deal?

Well as I approach the ending of my latest draft I'm fully aware of what was meant. Here is an example of what I just edited.

original: "Alice watched as Emily lifted the door and put in front of the fireplace."
As I look at this now I see that the "Alice watched" is redundant since the chapter is taken from her POV anyway. The line could do just as well without the "Alice watched as". Which is what I deleted. Wow - three more words off my count.

Throughout my manuscript I have noticed where I have done that. Adding a "wonder" or a "watch" - even the "looked" (or what ever other synonoms I managed to find) significantly added to my word count. More importantly it slowed down the pacing of the story like a literary speed bump. Pacing in stories are so important in today's literature. If the story is paced too slow the reader is going to put it down. No matter HOW interesting the topic is - or who the writer is. Honestly, I stopped reading Stephen King because his pacing has gotten sooo sloooow. It's a shame because I love his ideas.

When I am done with the draft, I'll have to go back and read for these "speed bumps" in my writing. I wonder does anyone else have examples of "speed bumps"?


  1. Great post. Time to go identify my "speed bumps."

  2. Oh I have speed bumps. They usually follow the verb "to look" in my WIP.