Today’s writing prompt is brought to you by the letters A and P and by the number 14.
Of course, this isn’t Sesame Street and we aren’t going to have puppets pop up and teach you life lessons using those letters. If you want to crate some puppets and make a song or skit, please do. Then record it and send it to me, cause I could use a laugh today.
Instead, we will work on a small writing nuance that not many people think about.
It isn’t important or life altering. However, I feel that this little, often overlooked writing aspect is big enough to practice every once in a while.
So, what am I on about? Let’s take a look at the prompt first, and see if you can figure it out for yourself.
Write a scene about two people having a conversation while their dogs are playing with each other at a dog park. When you are done, go back and change two major details about the characters (or the dogs) without affecting the rest of the scene.
I’m talking about nuance itself. Those small things we, as writers, get caught up on. The color of a shirt, or where the chair is placed in a room.
This shit doesn’t matter, folks.
I harp on similar things all the time, but recently in writing groups and in online forums I am seeing questions pop up more and more.
Things like “My character is waving to another character, trying to flirt with him, how would I describe that wave?” or “How long is the tail on a male, puppy golden retriever?”
Now, I ask you, in all seriousness, how fucking important do you think that is?
Yes, you want your details right. You do not want to piss off your readers by giving false facts. But there is a line to draw.
For example, if your MC gets shot in the thigh, you certainly need to know what damage can be done, how serious an injury can be, how long it will take to heal, or even how long until someone could feasibly walk again without a limp.
Forget the Non-Important Shit
What you do not need to get hung up on is how many inches it is from the femoral artery to the middle of the hamstring. You also don’t need to worry about the color blood would turn the denim once the MC was shot.
These nuances are just trouble waiting to happen. They don’t help your story, they move nothing forward and you get to the point where you are adding too much shit to your story and will end up losing your readers.
Remember, readers want to be whisked away on a magical journey.
They do not want to be bombarded with page after page of facts.
So forget the non-important shit. And here is a hint for the future: unless it is critical to your story, the character or scene, it is all non-important shit.
As this prompt helps you understand, if you can change something you consider major and it doesn’t affect the outcome of the scene, it can’t be that major. Can it?
Practice often. Remove what you don’t need.
And for the love of all that is holy and righteous, we don’t need three paragraphs about the color of blood soaked into denim. You can just say “blood soaked into his jeans.” Done. Move on.
Also, leave that poor Golden’s tail alone. Also note, as a nail in the point of this lesson. That image above? It’s a yellow lab, not a golden retriever. See how unimportant it all is?