Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The RUTE of the Problem

Tom Schreck, author of the Duffy Mysteries


The fun of reading is letting your mind conjure up pictures and stories.

Don't deprive readers of that. Say what you have to say with the least amount of words.

Pretend words are money and be economical.

If you write dialogue that goes:

"You pig! I hate your guts and I'm going to stab you in the eye with a screwdriver!"

Do your really need to say:

John was angry and he didn't mind showing it. His voice echoed down the hallowed halls and reverberated back at him. Mary was surprised and frightened. John's voice was not only loud but it was also filled with more stress than the waistband on Oprah's jeans.

No, you don't.

Trust the reader.

 They'll get it. 

If they don't you're using weak words.

Use stronger ones and stop boring us.


  1. Right on, Tom! So true, and excellent example! And I love your to-the-point, don't-mince-words delivery!

    About a third of my book, Style That Sizzles, talks ways to cut the yadda-yadda and write tighter, with lots of before and after examples. I should give a few of these on a post or two here, too, as I think readers enjoy examples, like the great one above.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Excellent advice. I need to remember it.

  3. I love the last line. I think I'll use it with my students.

    Maybe because I had to delay today's writing quota to finish a set of papers (and deal with whiny students via email), the "trust the reader, show it" message resonated even more strongly.

    Most people would never tell a story with that kind of "John was angry" exposition. Why? Because the audience is right there. (For four years, it's been right there.) Only in writing do we sometimes forget that there's an audience, and it's human.

    Thanks, Tom. I needed that.


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