Thursday, October 7, 2010

The complication of Carl Sagan

         I get "Quote of the day" on my home page. A few days ago, a quote by Carl Sagan - "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe..." made me chuckle a bit. I mean who doesn't laugh at Astrophysical humor...
   It did get me thinking about how writing can be MADE more complex than it has to be. I read a number of blog and web posts everyday, and I find the sense of a building, never ending, trend to find complexity where none exists. It can't exist without each of us making it so.

   Consider Sagan's quote for a second, then apply the apple pie to your manuscript's plot or characters. Are you layering on complexity, complication or setting in an attempt build a universe when a planet would suffice?
   Why do I suddenly want to say, "billions and billions" in a slow deep voice?

   The act of over-building or monumentalizing a plot or character will only complicate your writing efforts. Worse still, it will make editing so incredibly painful when you have to hit "delete" on your intricately woven prose. Editors look for clarity and transition. That the freckles of the gunman's hand remind you of your dog Spot, just before he pulls the trigger, won't survive the first editorial pass.

  Realize that the word "definition" has something to do with DEFINING, not elaborating. Complexity may stimulate your cerebral cortex, but remember, one man's intellectual stimulation, is another man's reason to reach for the Tylenol.

   Write for everyone...