|"Too many words..."|
If you haven't guessed, Masello's Robert's Rules of Writing is one of my favorite craft books. It's a small work jam packed with excellent advice!
Masello uses the example of a scene that takes place in a lecture hall. Is it really necessary to show the students filing in, the professor straightening his notes at the podium, then clearing his throat and beginning the lecture?
Absolutely not! If the oncoming conflict is an argument that takes place between the protagonist and the professor, that results in the protagonist getting kicked out of school, focus on that.
Masello says, "If that's what the scene is about, if that's what moves the action of your story forward, then come in just before the argument flares up and out of control. And once the expulsion is given, end the scene...Lingering in that lecture hall will only dilute the power of the confrontation."
In closing, get to the point, and know when to quit. Rambling and meandering is okay in a first draft, but while revising, cut what's possible so the reader won't be bored!
Reprinted from April 18, 2011.