Archive for November 13th, 2009

Nov 13 2009

A suitably brief guide to conciseness

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

  • “Does this develop an important character or advance the plot in a meaningful way?”  If not, it’s a strong candidate for deletion.  (To make scenery meaningful, draw it into the story– let characters interact with it or use atmospherics to develop the mood, etc). 
  • “Is there a better, faster way to show this?”  For example, rather than go through a scene establishing a minor character’s incompetence, perhaps you can just mention some of his spectacular failings in passing. 
  • “Is this redundant?”  I’d only recommend hammering the same point repeatedly if it’s really important. 
  • “Am I focusing on what is most important?”  Don’t waste our time on the small stuff.  Spending 25 pages searching for a minor artifact is probably unacceptable but spending hundreds of pages getting Ulysses from Troy to Ithaca obviously works. 
  • “Is this coherent?”  If it’s just a minor tangent that goes nowhere, get rid of it.  Additionally, try to tie together plot points as much as possible.   For example, if the superhero has a day job, ideally his work contributes to the plot in some way.  Maybe he uses his skills as a journalist to investigate Lex Luthor.  Maybe his struggles to hold down a pizza-delivery job show how much he’s sacrificing to be a superhero.   

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