Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Monday, March 4, 2013

Saying for Writers #150 - George Singleton

A Quote which Might (or Might Not) Inspire You to Write:

“You do not have to explain every single drop of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop — H2O. The reader will get it.” — George Singleton

Dixon says: Novelist and screenwriter Dennis Foley used to teach writing at UCLA, and now shares his wisdom with the Authors of the Flathead in northwest Montana. One of his most frequently repeated acronyms is RUE – resist the urge to explain.

Gone are the days when, in the first chapter of a novel, a woman would enter a room, only to have the author completely stop the action while he spends half a page describing the carpet, drapes, furniture and wallpaper. It is helpful for the author if he can visualize all that information. However, all the reader needs is a few telling details in order to understand the essence of the setting. If I mention an ornate Chinese rug, doilies on wing chairs, and yellowed lithographs of dead relatives on a mantle, you might think, “That’s just like my elderly aunt’s parlor.” If I give you another half-page of description, it all becomes a jumble of confusing details.

So resist the urge to explain.

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