I’ve been writing “stuff” for many years. Even so, sometimes I forget the basics. I am working on final drafts of my next Adventure/Thriller novel and that will take several months. I expect it to be published in the spring or early summer of 2014. As I was working on it, I had reached about two-hundred and thirty-some pages. And, I thought, this is just not quite long enough. I need to add a chapter or two to make it longer.
So I pondered that for quite awhile. I kept reading it, and reading it and trying to see where I could add some material. And then, a basic precept of writing good fiction hit me squarely between the eyes. And, what puzzles me is that I didn’t think of it before. I’ve known it for years and have always practiced it.
Here it is: A story takes as long as it takes. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But there is hardly a rule of writing fiction that is more important.
You see, I’ve known forever (it seems) that I will never be known as a great writer. But I would like to someday be remembered as a good “story teller.” And a story takes just as long as it takes to tell it, but no more.
One of the most often read criticism I see of reviews of books on Amazon is that the author seemed to insert a lot of “filler.” That really is a poor and unprofessional practice. Remember what Elmore Leonard said, “I write the book, then I take out the parts the reader won’t read.” That is some advice to take to heart. When you are writing, tell the story—then quit. Your readers will be grateful.