Words from Elmore Leonard
“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” ~Elmore Leonard
I got this quotation when I posted one of my first entries here. WordPress helpfully displayed it on the left bar that appears after you immediately post an entry. When I read it, I laughed. Mostly, I laughed because it reminded me of something, a conversation I’d had very recently before seeing the quotation, but let me say something first.
I try to write like that, for a couple of reasons. Let me say that I’ve never been a fan of The Lord of the Rings series. Or anything by Tolkien, really. I feel he’s too… verbose. I remember slogging my way through the first LOTR book and noticing a particularly lengthy and boring description of a hill that actually had no (or very little… I can’t remember exactly, it was quite some time ago) significance to the story. In short, I hated it. I remember being read The Hobbit when I was in grade four and liking it somewhat, but I tried reading it later and didn’t care for it anymore. I never did read the other two of the LOTR series. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So when I write, while I like a certain degree of descriptiveness and world-building, I try to keep it balanced. I include enough to create a mental picture, but not so much my readers will get bored.
But back to why I laughed; not long before I first read Elmore Leonard’s words, I’d been getting some close friends and family members to read my first book. The first draft (quickly proofread, but only for spelling and obvious stuff like that) was done, and of course I was immensely proud and wanting feedback. The bit of feedback two gave me related to that quote, but in opposite ways. One thought I was too “flowery” in my descriptions, and said I ought to cut them out. The other said that he wanted more world-building, more descriptions, in my story. I found myself agreeing more with the latter critic than the former, but it just goes to show that you can’t please everyone. On the other hand, I now have a handy quotation to defend myself with if anyone complains too much about the latter!
What are your thoughts on the quotation? Are you the sort to include too much, or too little? Please, share your thoughts!