Clarity

The Peaceful and Just revision page #197

Lately my editor has been on me about clarity, what she calls the “supreme God.” I have been trying to better explain the things that I understand, but have not communicated to my readers. This is a complicated book, with a lot of “world building,” and there are a lot of things that I know about my characters and the places that I leave out because I thought my readers could discover it as they go. However, I am beginning to realize that they won’t hang around to discover it if they don’t care about the story because they don’t understand it.

Also, there are many things that I am learning as go. This is why writers really need to know their characters and their setting, know everything about it, and it definitely helps to know it before you start. I must say I don’t really work like that, but I can see the benefits. I am stuck having to go back and work on it in my revision, but I think I have figured out many things that add depth to my story and my characters.

I have also realized something important. My end goal is always to write something that “reads just like a real book” (to paraphrase Marc Bolan). It is an amorphous idea, but I know it when I read it. I always thought of it like Hemingway going back and marking his paragraphs where more was needed to keep the flow going, but now I think it is actually less. In other words, flow is achieved not by adding more description or action, but by clarifying what is already there. For example, I need to stop using different words for things because I feel the reader is getting bored of reading the same word over and over again. Instead of pegmatite and obelisk I can just call a stone a stone. Some repetition is actually good. It allows the reader to have familiarity with the book, rather than having to break open the thesaurus every paragraph. By simplifying and clarifying, I think that my book comes closer and closer to that elusive flow I am always looking for.

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