Friday, October 13, 2017

Revealing just enough

One of my favorite parts of revision is balancing what I want to spell out explicitly with what I want the reader to figure out. How big are the bread crumbs I should leave, and how far apart can they be, for the reader to still be able to follow the trail?

Some things I only want to suggest, to hint at, to foreshadow. Some things I want the reader to have the thrill of discovering--or even of deciding. Yet I can't be too vague.

I'm doing such a revision now, deleting repetitions, trimming where I've over-explained, cutting back to make room for the reader. I'm also adding a few words where I realize I haven't been clear, have assumed too much. Seeking, the whole time, a perfect balance.


  1. For me, one of the most satisfying aspects of revision is locating a passage I can delete, knowing the content is already known to the reader. I have a momentary feeling of failure ("How could that have survived through multiple reads?!"), followed by deep satisfaction knowing I've just trimmed some bloated wording. Hooray!

    1. I, too, find deletion satisfying! It's like sanding a board, removing the rough spots for a satiny finish.

  2. Exactly! Nothing beats a satiny finish.