Friday, February 22, 2008

Novel filler

During the past few days I've pushed the current novel up to 185 manuscript pages, but I stopped work on it last night to work on a short story, and I may stick with short stories and other projects for the next few days.


I felt like I was writing filler and not substantially adding to the work-in-progress. This was brought home to me by a page or so of dialog in a novel I'm reading that is little more than:

"You did it."

"No, I didn't."

"Yes, you did."

"No, I didn't."

It's written a little better than that, of course, and there's some description mixed in with the dialog, but it truly is filler material. The author is spinning her wheels and going nowhere. In a good short story, that same page-plus of bad dialog might be reduced to and summarized in a sentence or two:

After he accused her of stealing the money, she denied it. They argued for fifteen minutes, but came to no resolution.

(Note: I'm not advocating replacing dialog with summary, but I am advocating replacing bad dialog with good summary.)

1 comment:

Kevin R. Tipple said...

I see this a lot and the companion idea where every fifty pages or so, the main character sums up everything that has gone before in the guise of thinking about the list of suspects.