Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday So What Quick Tip: Summary

This Quick Tip comes from something that happened at my critique group. I had answered an email about it earlier, but now I realize that others might benefit from the answer I gave both of them.

Just because you are in a dialogue scene doesn't mean you have to actually say it. Here's what I mean.

Let's take Jennifer. In the first two chapters of her story, we as the reader go on a date with her. It's awful.  Then next day in Chapter 3, Jennifer has lunch with her best friend and gives her all the details over lunch. Here's where the tip comes in: As a reader, we just experienced the date. We don't need to have the entire thing rehashed for us. Unless you want to add a zinger or two to emphasize, don't bore the reader. Keep it in summary.

Example Don't:
"So Marc picked me up last night in his beat up truck. Then we went to the worst restaurant, La Shay. The food was sub par anyway, but to make matters worse, Marc put a cockroach in my food after I had eaten most of it so that the meal would be comped. Later, I had to buy the gas when we almost ran out. And then when he dropped me off he tried to kiss me." Jennifer shivered from the memory of Marc's duck lips and bad breath.

Now keep in mind, we just barely read all of this as it happened.

Example do:
"Have a seat, because I have a doozy for you." Jennifer scooted into the booth and gave Amanda the grimy details of her date. She didn't leave out a thing from the cockroach comped meal, to the near miss kiss at the end. Jennifer shivered from the memory of Marc's duck lips and bad breath.

Amanda fell over laughing in the booth. "I can't believe he made you pay for gas. This one definitely goes in the record book."

In the second example, we aren't giving a factual recitation but more the after effects and the reaction. Hopefully, this will mean the reader doesn't get bored and start skimming over the parts they already know.

So that's your quick tip, unless it's new interesting info, put it in summary instead of giving the play by play


  1. Definitely useful reminder of dealing with overview dialog. Thanks!



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