Monday, June 18, 2012

"Please don't tell me what I just read"

“Two blondes walk into a building. You’d have thought at least one of them would have seen it.” Of course, had one of them seen it would she have warned the other? Was it perhaps a glass building? What feelings might a foolish…?

One of the biggest speed bumps can come at the end of a novel or story. In some genres, it's called the “takeaway.” By bypassing the drama with an ending that dissects the story and enumerates the lessons learned, it flattens the story. Giving a lesson after the story is insulting. It diminishes the impact of what might have otherwise been a well written piece. The takeaway device is like nudging after a joke, or even worse saying “Get it, get it, get it?” Until I want a rock to fall on their heads and get them.

The story should be clear and not need explanation from the author. Yet, some genres seem to pride themselves on the big takeaway postmortem. Fortunately most romance and mystery writers are not tempted into this tedious telling that equates to author intrusion. Once the plot is resolved, a sudden stop is effective and dramatic. It has rhythm and pathos. (I think I just hyperbolized.)

Why belabor the plot points? If you were lucky enough to have a reader choose your story, get on to the next one and leave them with their personal ah-ha moment—even if it comes an hour later while they’re having dinner. I've actually had those moments days later, but then there are those who think I’m slow on the uptake—or finicky.

Julie Eberhart Painter is the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, Tangled , and Kill Fee awarded Best Book for 2011. See Julie’s Web site at and!issue-11


Sunshine and Shadows said...

I agree with you. I don't like being hit over the head with what the author thinks it means. I like to think over it - sometimes for a few days or a second reading before I get it all.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Thank you for your comment.

Liz Fountain said...

My favorites often leave me hoping for a sequel - not because of plot, so much, but because I want to hang out with these characters some more. Overexplaining is definitely a way to kill that feeling.

Ute Carbone said...

I agree. I hate it when authors over explain anything.