Something I’ve learned from working with a brilliant editor?
More often than not, less is more.
Just like too much sugar upsets the stomach, too much drama can exhaust our readers. We run the risk of diluting the impact and poignancy of the drama that should matter. It’s sort of like those characters who are constantly crying. Somehow, the never-ending waterworks make for a less emotional reading experience.
Not to mention, too much drama can flush that all-important suspension of disbelief down the toilet, which is the very last thing we want to do as writers. There reaches a point where eyes stop watering and start rolling.
This is what I found myself doing as I revisited one of my old manuscripts.
I had given my two leads back stories that were more tragic than they needed to be.
Which led to my new rule of thumb.
When critiquing my work, I ask myself a very simple question:
Is this necessary?
Is this particular piece of drama or back story or what-have-you vital to the story?
If I removed it, would the character’s motivations no longer make sense?
If yes, I leave it.
If no, I take it out. Lest my drama becomes melodrama.
Because of that question, I was able to alleviate some unnecessary tragedy from my hero and heroine’s past. And by doing so, have hopefully made this story one that is more emotionally engaging.
Let’s Talk: What makes you roll your eyes when you read?