I have a reputation for being “wordy”, in my everyday life and in my writing. It stems in part, I think, from a particular teacher I had when I was ten (one of the better ones!) who would invariably mark my compositions with the words “not long enough”, but I believe it is also a product of my love of texture and layering. I like to feel the sentences and love nothing more than paragraphs that have to be excavated like an archeological site. Strata of meaning, each telling something the others cannot.
Nonetheless, it has at times hindered my work, and so with Children of the Resolution I decided that I would approach the project differently. I knew it had the possibility of running to a massively self-indulgent 200,000 word plus novel if I cared to let it (it covers a fourteen year period, for one thing.) But I didn’t want that. It would, I felt (and still do), detract from, dilute, the meaning behind the story. Something I can’t afford.
My solution — my way of preventing my habit of literary overkill — was to outline extensively beforehand. I didn’t know if it would work, but suspected that knowing exactly what I had ahead of me might help me hold it in check. So far it seems to be working. My prose feels fresh and uncluttered, and there seems to be little in the way of redundancy.
One thing I am finding difficult, however, is the related matter of what material should and should not be used. (“Difficult” is stretching it a bit. It’s a minor niggle that I nevertheless know I must resist.) The “difficulty” relates to it being semi-autobiographical. I have a rich well of material to draw from. The more I write, the more I remember, but because of the constraints of length and theme, I’m finding I can actually use very little of it. The line has to be drawn somewhere.
A possible solution, I suppose, would be free-to-read, online “spin-off” stories. A free-form “further adventures of” affair. It would solve my little problem and provide a neat promotional tool.
Something worth considering?