Saturday, July 14, 2018

Playing with sentence length in crime fiction. Is it time to trim the fat?

Today’s post is about creating tension in crime fiction with sentence length. I look at how overwriting can mar the pace of a novel and frustrate a reader, and how less can sometimes be more.
Playing with sentence length
This post featured in Joel Friedlander's Carnival of the Indies #93
Around eighty per cent of the books that end up in my editing studio are in the crime fiction genre.

One of the most common problems I encounter is overwriting. That’s not because the authors are poor writers. It’s because they’re nervous writers.

It takes a lot of hard graft to put enough words on a page to make a book. Yet it takes an equal amount of courage to remove them ... or some of them.

‘What if the reader just doesn’t get it?’
‘What if they’ve forgotten what I told them above?’
‘What if I haven’t provided enough detail?’
‘What if I just love both ways I’ve said that?’

These are the kinds of questions that result in anxious authors bulking up their prose.

In a bid to help you trim the fat, I’m going to explore the following:
  • Trusting your reader
  • Feisty fragments and snappy shorties
  • Damage by dilution
  • Letting go of what you love
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