Simplify. Get rid of clutter. I’ve been seeing this advice lately in my reading. Keep your writing clean and simple. Cut out the do-nothing words. If you find the best verb, you can get rid of the adverbs. Use only one word instead of ten where ever possible.
But all the while I’ve been reading this, I’ve wondered, “Does it really work? Or will my writing be too spare? Too pared down?”
I’ve also been reading Speed Decorating by Jill Vegas. She tells readers to look at the space. What is the function of this place? Once you’ve decided, get rid of the clutter. Move out the things that belong elsewhere. Find a new home for things that don’t suit this purpose and bring in things that do. Broken or worn out pieces need to go.
In between a series of rewrites this weekend, I worked on our entry way. The first step was to clean off the bench. It was supposed to hold just two pillows but is also where I parked my purse. And packages when I get home. And things waiting to go out the door. I found a new home for my purse and cleaned away the packages, etc.
What about the cushions? Wouldn’t the bench look too spare without them? Deciding I could always put them back, I stored them in a closet.
Now every time I walk through the entry way, I think, “Wow. I like the way the bench looks, but maybe it’s just me.”
Today, a friend stepped through the front door. “What a pretty bench.”
My plan for rewriting has been firmed up. First, I’ll look the piece over. I’ll consider the market and the audience. I’ll noodle over what I’m trying to accomplish with this piece of writing. Whatever doesn’t serve that end will have to go. If I have any doubt about a particular paragraph, sentence or scene, I’ll save it in a “trimmings” file. That way, I can always put things back as needed.
But, somehow, I don’t think most of it will be missed.