This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: the Devil is in the Details gives me an opportunity to defend my tight writing style. So let me come at the theme from a different angle. It’s a matter of degrees, in fact about 180°. I’m not a big fan of lengthy, flowery, detail-laden writing; I’m economical with words – maybe even cheap. I much prefer Hemingway to Dickens and Simenon to Proust. However, in keeping with the theme I will try, using as many details as I can, to illustrate why I’m not a detail writer.
“A woman walks into a restaurant” – okay, I’m good with that – next. I‘d rather the author got on with the narrative than spent several paragraphs describing things. I like to think readers have their own imaginations and for each of them the restaurant will be different based on their own experiences. For this same reason I don’t like when authors, or anyone for that matter, read from a novel. I understand it is a great honor to have so-and-so read from their best-selling work. But I already have the characters’ voices in my head. I don’t want to be thrown a curve by an author who uses a different accent for a favorite character of mine when reading from his or her book. I believe the reading of books is a personal thing. But I digress.
“Outside the temperature is below freezing, and the restaurant is overheated and crowded, a victim of its own recent success due primarily to a glowing review in a local newspaper. The steam on her glasses renders her blind as she attempts to find her husband who is waiting for her. She stands still hoping her glasses will clear before she walks into someone or worse, knocks over a tray of drinks. Suddenly she is taken aback as her glasses come off and now her vision is blurred not by steam, but by her severe myopia. Before she can react a kind voice says ‘Let me rescue you darling, I knew this would happen’ as her husband wipes her glasses, hands them back to her and leads her to their table.”
“A woman walks into a hot restaurant on a freezing night and because it is so hot and crowded her glasses fog up. She doesn’t want to bump into anyone so she stands still before looking for her husband. But he is a step ahead of her and takes her glasses, wipes them off and shows her to their table.”
That’s 125 words in the first version and 60 in the second. I realize that if I were paid by the word I’d be in a pickle, but that’s just me!