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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Overcrowding and Gatecrashers

A simple way to cure a short story of confusion is to kill characters.

If you are in a room full of people at a party, it is impossible to circulate among them all and have adequate conversations with each one. We try at the beginning to do this and then settle for the couple or group with whom we feel most comfortable. Then the party becomes manageable and more enjoyable. You know your company and you care about them because, despite the crowded room, they are all you have. You have effectively blocked out the rest as far as meaningful communication is concerned. You will leave at the end of the evening without having spoken to many of them, but it doesn't matter. They have been busy with their own 'chosen few'.

So if your current story lacks clarity, try ignoring a few people. There may be too many. Two or three is normally enough. If you have more than four, then consider whether that is overcrowding your venue. Could you merge two together? Ditch one or two completely without ruining the plot? Will the reader actually care about all of these people?

Keep any favourites in a notebook or file them for future use. Resurrect them when they can fit in somewhere else.

Make it a select gathering by invitation only. Gatecrashers aren't welcome.


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