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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

LIFE AS A MINIMALIST

By Santa Byrnes



I’ve been stuck on the small stuff lately. The little things in life. The stacks of notes and post-its that make up my life. I write on a tiny table on my laptop which is a computer in miniature. I’ve mastered the art of rapid fire responses on my Blackberry (aka Crackberry) using those miracles of the primate – opposable thumbs - whose ode Hawkeye Pierce sang so eloquently on M*A*S*H.

I twitter further challenging me to keep my musings to 140 characters – not even words – characters. Trust me friends, it is quite a challenge. My own handle (yes, I harken from the days of CB and Ham radios) takes up quite a number of characters.

So, you may ask yourself – what does this have to do with writing romance?

Glad you asked.

We are called as authors to keep words to a minimum. Say more with less. Sounds easy enough but why is it so hard to do? Well, I guess I should say – why is it so hard for me to do? Am I a particularly verbose person? Am I a chatterbox? The answer to both these questions is – no. Especially since I’m known to say what I mean and mean what I say.

Why, then, is it so hard for me to do so in my writing? Funny thing is when I first started writing I had to wring the words out. Any writing I did professionally had to be direct and to the point. There is no room for flowery prose when writing psycho-social reports or in the training materials I created.

So, as a romance writer, I let myself loose and wrote what my heart saw instead of what my head reported.

I think I went overboard.

No.

Scratch that.

I know I went overboard. I was so busy vesting the reader in what the story was about that I didn’t realize I was telling them too much and not showing them enough.

Yes, folks, the ‘AHA!’ moment. I had to step back from my story, and see it through a reader’s eye and show them just what the hell I was talking about. In showing them, the reader, I engage them in the story. They then become a part of that story, living through it as they read it. Hopefully, they’ll feel his hands hold fast to the burnished gold of her hair. See her slow smile as he lowers his lips to hers.

What say you, fellow writers? At a loss of words? Are you carrying around excess baggage in your writing? Share how you’ve cleaned up your act. Are there any tricks of the trade that worked for you? In a word - Share.♥




My name is Santa Byrnes and I am a contemporary romance writer with one completed manuscript under my belt and one that I am working on at the present. When I am not wearing my writer’s tiara, you can find me at the wheel of my car chauffeuring my children heather and yon to their various activities. I write there. I don my deli diva tiara as co-owner and manager of my family’s gourmet food store. I also write there. As an ardent foodie, I get much of my inspiration for the current series I am working on. My heroines are chefs whose passions for the culinary arts rivals the passions they share with the heroes in their lives.

4 comments:

  1. Great blog Santa! I recently read Stephen King's On Writing, which helped me look at all of the extra words in my manuscript with a more critical eye (especially the adverbs).

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  2. I'm the opposite, too few words. I'm afraid 75% of this story will be written during the revision stage. But I suppose there's only one way to find out - keep writing. And maybe when I have a few of these under my belt, I'll get more words in the first time.

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  3. Nice blog Santa -- simplify, simplify, simplify, as a famous new england poet once said. And he was write (wrong spelling intended); although he wasn't speaking of writing, it pertains.

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  4. Love the blog. I was a proofreader for decades so I learned how to "slice and dice" so to speak. Now after writing fiction, I slip my proofreader hat on, then cut for sense, style and finally, space.

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