Tuesday Tips is a new category of posts here at Writerly Life that will be appearing every Tuesday. It’s a series of concrete tips for improving or kickstarting your writing. The tips that fall into this category are the sorts that you can do today or even right now, and they’re chosen to immediately re-vitalize your writing in some small (but meaningful!) way.
This week’s tip is:
Back Away at the End
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I believe we read to experience stories. It’s a very deep-seated urge, to see the experiences of other human beings playing out before our eyes. What we don’t go to fiction for is analysis. I doubt you can find anyone who says he loves reading a good fiction story for its careful analysis of something.
And yet…we insist on thrusting analysis into our writing all the time! Out of a sense of insecurity, we include a powerful scene, and then hustle in with a helpful “my story for dummies” guide, offering a paragraph, a page, or heaven forbid, even a chapter that spells out what was so subtly presented before. It’s obnoxious, and frankly, disrespectful, because it assumes the reader is too dumb to figure it all out on his or her own.
So how do we resist this impulse? The trick is to simply back away, right when you want to analyze something the most. Right when you’re ready to leap in and explain how a character is feeling or what that broken tree symbolizes, just exit. Pull out. Back away. Step off. It’s time to leave that lovely image roiling in your reader’s mind — and not kill it by dissecting it endlessly.