If someone took a tour through my cerebral cortex, they’d find open cabinets with my Vickie Secrets flung far and wide, some errant wisps of paper that need filing, and endless manuscripts awaiting my attention. In short, the inside of my brain is a disaster…but it’s a far sight better than the beagle’s, whose cabinets are filled with empty tequila bottles. But as disorganized as my cerebral files are, I somehow manage to paint a sentient thought or two when it comes to writing. But that doesn’t necessarily extend to everyone.
There are times during the editing process when I see a shortcut between what’s in the author’s head and what actually made it to cyber paper. This takes the form of an incomplete scene that’s crying out for more explanation. For example, you can’t have a scene about being arrested and not tell the reader what the infraction is, or having a surgery without explaining what kind of surgery and why it’s needed.
The result of these shortcuts is that the reader will begin asking questions…which takes them out of your story. If you shortcut too much, they’ll toss your book (or manuscript) across the room.
Your scenes need to be developed enough in order to satisfy your reader and keep them from asking basic questions. Of course, many stories are meant to confound and confuse because it’s the nature of the plot. But you can’t leave basics out. If your character is crossing the room, and in the next breath is pulling weeds in the garden, then your readers won’t be very happy. Neither will your editor.
The problem is that authors know their stories so well, that they don’t realize they haven’t connected all the dots. So think about cleaning up your cerebral file cabinets so you can arrange your thoughts in a logical, organized manner that won’t leave your readers scratching their heads, wondering where the lady with three belly buttons fits into your story.