Monday, December 3, 2012

The blah, blah, blah

I tend to write books that happen over the course of three days.  That seems to be my favorite amount of time for a couple to meet, fall in love, have headboard rocking sex, realize they can’t live without one another, screw it up, fix it, and live happily ever after. 

But yes, after I write that first draft where everything happens in a whirlwind, I do go back in—usually—and add to the story, draw it out, make it more believable.  Because, okay, three days isn’t really enough time for all of that to happen.  Probably.

But that first draft often happens really fast because I leave out the blah, blah, blah.  The part I hate writing.  The extra stuff. 

You know what I’m talking about.  The “she crossed to the cupboard, took out two cups and poured them both coffee”.  But you have to have that stuff in there too or everyone’s just sitting around talking all the time.  Or pacing and shouting.  Or stroking and groaning  :)  See, those are the parts I like.  The action, the dialogue, the parts that move and change the story and characters. 

I don’t care if he pulled on a pair of blue jeans and made pancakes after rocking her world.  Or that she had to shower, do her hair and go to work before meeting him for lunch.  Why do I want to read about people doing their hair?  Or mulling over expense reports?  Or making sandwiches?  Sure, sometimes that matters.  If the expense reports are showing the villain is embezzling and the heroine’s life is now in danger because he found out she knows.  But even then…
As Elmore Leonard was quoted as saying, "I try to leave out the parts that people skip."

I skip the blah, blah, blah as a reader.  Okay, I skim it. 

As a writer I leave it out. Then have to put some of it back in. 

Because that’s the stuff that fills the days, the things that have to be done, and stuff that makes the story take a realistic amount of time to develop.

Yes, people have to drink coffee (come on, people have to drink coffee!  What kind of world am I creating here?!) and wine (see previous comment).  And they have to eat (another favorite of mine) and shower (I don’t want even my villains to stink!) and go to work, etc.  Part of storytelling is pulling the reader in and making them a part of the world.  So, you have to make these people real.  And real people eat, drink, sleep, work and shower.  And lots of other things.

And then, of course, there’s the good old “Three days later” or “By the time the weekend rolled around”. 
You can skip chunks of time pretty cleanly that way.  I like that.  It’s easy, for one thing.  We just assume those days in between were routine and boring.  No one had life-altering realizations, no one had a near-death experience, and while there was hopefully sex, it was pretty much like the times we did get to read about.  No new positions or toys or people involved.  We assume it was fabulous, everyone involved enjoyed it immensely and that everyone is still on the same page emotionally.  ‘Cuz when any of that changes, I want to see it!  Show don’t tell! :)

So, yeah, the blah, blah, blah has to be there but hopefully it’s just enough to get us from one important, life-altering, story-changing, better-man-making, omg-this-is-the-best-ever scene to the next.

 Am I the only one that skims, or outright skips, some parts in a book?  If you do it too, what’s the blah, blah, blah for you?


Kim B said...

People skim and skip??? Well I guess I am doing it all wrong! I never do this. Seriously. I had an English teacher tell me about this trick once and I couldn't believe it. An English teacher?!

But what if she spills her coffee and then later someone asks about the stain on her shirt? If I skip the coffee, I won't know about that stain. And I really want to know where she got that stain.

Erin Nicholas said...

lol! That doesn't surprise me about you, Kim! :)
<3 Erin

D. F. Krieger said...

So ummm, I don't understand this whole drinking coffee part to begin with cause I uh, don't drink coffee...Or whine.

Tea is the essence of life!


PG Forte said...

Yes, yes, yes. And yes again. Of course, I still feel like my characters spend most of their time pacing and shouting...wait, you weren't talking about me, right? No, don't answer that. lol!

Sydney Somers said...

I can leave the coffee too, but the wine is a must. I tend to gloss over the less exciting details when I'm doing my first draft. But unless a story is really dragging, I usually don't skim ahead to the good parts while reading. I'm always thinking I might miss something important and have to reread parts.

Erin Nicholas said...

See, I'm obviously a bad reader ;)

I don't need in depth details about their jobs, or what they're making for dinner, or her drive to work.

But, yes, okay, I have definitely skipped important details and had to go back and re-read (to find out where she got the coffee stain on her skirt that led to a major revelation!) LOL!

Erin Nicholas said...

PG, when your characters pace and shout it's for VERY GOOD REASON! lol!