Jessie: Truly enjoying the second day of school!
In few weeks time my husband and I will be heading to China for a vacation. He’s been practicing away on Rosetta Stone Mandarin and racking up inspiring documentaries on our Netflix queue.
I’ve been thinking about what to pack.Whenever we travel I feel compelled to take as little as possible. I don’t like feeling weighed down by extras. My height makes overhead compartments a trial even with the lightest of carryon cases. So I’ve been looking at my wardrobe and some online suggestions and am aiming at fitting everything I actually need into a single carryon bag. Experts say it can easily be done with proper planning.
Which brings me to writing. Crafting a novel is a lot like going on a journey to a new and unfamiliar place. It is tempting to overpack with too much description, too many navel-gazing moments by the protagonist. Do you need to give the main character an umbrella just because it’s raining? Do you need a mustache on that villain? Does light need to glint off every surface? How much is too much and how much is just right?
When you are working with a traditional publisher you sign a contract for a book that has an expected range for the word count. It works a lot like a weight limit on suitcases. Just like the traveler who keeps pulling things back out of the bag every time the luggage scale reads over 50 pounds, writers trim words and look for verbs that work hardest. We crunch and roll and squeeze as much into the space as possible hoping our readers will enjoy their journey with us.
Writers, do you treat your work like a carryon bag? Readers, do you have any packing tips for me?