Thursday, 31 May 2012

Cut The Boring Bits Using Summary

Real life is not the same as fictional life.  Real life is lived in real time, boring bits and all.  Fictional life is the edited highlights. Summary is a useful tool for this:

'Have you seen the new film?' Bertram asked.
'No, not yet,' Agatha said.
'Do you want to go?'
'Yes, sure.'
Bertram cleared his throat. 'What about Friday?'
'Friday sounds good.'
'Great.  Do you want to meet for a drink beforehand?'
'Yes, why not?'
'About 7?'
'That should be okay.'
'See you then.'

This is b-o-o-o-ring!  All they're doing is arranging to go out one evening.  Why not summarise to:

Bertram phoned Agatha and they arranged to go out on Friday.

Or, if you want something a bit more:

Bertram finally plucked up courage and asked Agatha if she'd seen the new film.
'No, not yet.'
'We could go on Friday if you liked, perhaps meet for a drink beforehand.'
Agatha liked, and Bertram put the phone down, not sure how he was going to last until 7 on Friday evening.

Other boring bits come when you go into great detail about what characters are doing that don't add anything.  This is sometimes called 'sandwich making,' as in 'Agatha went to the cupboard and got out the bread and butter, then went to the fridge and took out the ham.  She took out two slices of bread and spread them with butter, then carefully put a slice of ham on one slice.  Then she put the other slice of bread on top, butter side down.  Then she ate the sandwich.'

or in summary: Agatha made herself a ham sandwich.

Summary is such a useful tool.  It leaves you free to concentrate on writing the interesting bits which are the only bits really worth reading.


PrincessFiona01 said...

Oh good. I have some boring bits to dispose of in a current WIP I'm editing. This has put me in the right mood for some nip and tucks. Thanks

Sarah Duncan said...

I always like getting rid of the boring bits, it makes me feel I'm getting somewhere. Have fun!