Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

When an author writes too fully

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I’m thought I’d read the Joanna Brady series of mysteries. I got Desert Heat, the first in the series, but I’m having trouble with it because the author doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone. (I suspect she was told at some writer’s conference that the secret is to use specific details, so that’s what she does, but immoderately.)

Here’s an example:

Jenny finished her sandwich, pushed her plate aside, and started in on the dish of sliced peaches. Eva Lou Brady, Joanna’s mother-in-law, had canned them herself with fruit from the carefully nurtured freestone peach tree planted just outside the kitchen door.

Too much detail for my taste. If the writer goes that far, I would like to know whether the tree is on the left or the right as you go out that kitchen door.

In fact, I would replace “the carefully nurtured freestone peach tree planted just outside the kitchen door” with “her backyard peach tree” and be done with it. Perhaps readers would then clamor for more detail, but I think not.

Another example:

With a grateful sigh she took a first tentative sip of coffee, letting the hot liquid warm her chilled body from the inside out.

The author thoughtfully included that final phrase, “from the inside out,” to disabuse readers of the image of the character pouring the coffee over herself to warm herself from the outside in. But that thought had not occurred to me until the writer so carefully brought it to mind. I believe a good writer would have ended the sentence without the additional (and counterproductive) explanation of how the coffee was used: being sipped instead of poured over herself. A period following “body” with the rest excised would have been better.

I don’t know that this is a good writer for me.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2013 at 9:42 am

Posted in Books, Writing

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