When I’m writing my novels, actually writing them as opposed to working on them, editing, rewriting, reworking, I have what amounts to a film running in my head… sometimes I am in the film (never as me, but as one of my characters) sometimes I’m looking over the shoulder of a character, with the ability to see inside their heads, and just very occasionally (which maybe not often enough) I am like a CCTV surveillance team, watching from above as they move around and things happen.
Because I write like this I sometimes write down every single thing I see… “She stood up quickly from the old oak dining chair, and hurriedly crossed the orange and green shag-pile carpet, reached out her hand to the doorknob, grasped it firmly, turned it, opened the pine door…” and so on. I also tend to ‘record’ every little phrase, comment, ‘ooh’, ‘ah’, hm?’, ‘mm’ that my characters utter, and according to a previous head-teacher, I write in labyrinthine sentences built on Germanic structures. This is why my first drafts are so long and why when I attack them with my scythe and pruning shears my work is sometimes reduced by a tenth or even more!
Yes, it is important to give the reader a picture, yes, it does add texture to the text, and understanding to a character’s motives and actions, but honestly! Sometimes reading my first drafts is like wading through verbal treacle! I do want my novels to be vivid, but I don’t want readers to drown in a flood of adverbs, adjectives, descriptive phrases… My novels aren’t ‘spare’, ‘sparse’ or ‘pared down’, I hope they are gripping and engaging reads; I hope they are vivid and the characters and setting easily imagined, but I don’t want them to be boring!
Right… back to ‘Lucky Portbraddon’ … I’ve lost 10,000 already…
If you haven’t read any of my svelt, trim novels, here is a link: