What to Leave Out

Quote for the Week

The fabulous Elmore Leonard once said: I try to leave out the parts that people skip.

That's probably the most succinct piece of advice a writer will ever hear. Think about it. Profound isn't it? It also explains why Mr. Leonard's books MOVE. If a novel is characterized by rising action, then an Elmore Leonard book moves like a runaway train.

Do yours? Pull out that work in progress and read 10 pages. Are there parts you skipped over? If you don't have an objective eye, ask an honest reader to do the same. Then ask them if there were sentences or paragraphs they just skimmed over instead of reading word for word. If they say yes, then the reason why they skimmed is because those parts were boring.

The Dreaded B Word

What do you do when confronted with an honest reader and the dreaded B word? Immediately figure out if those paragraphs are needed. If they are, condense them as much as possible and make the new copy akin to a runaway train.

Takeaway Truth

Learning what to leave out is as important as knowing what to put in.