Let’s Just Skip That Part

Reading some things last night I realized a trend.  Not every time, but sometimes when I read, I lose interest in the details and just skip to the parts that tell me the gist of what is being said or what is going on.

Why do I lose interest in things and skip them:

  • They are needless or redundant details
  • They are boring and lengthy details
  • It is information that does not add to nor improve the story
  • It is a tangent that has nothing to do with the story and is not amusing or fascinating in any way
  • It is a repeat of sorts – the author is attempting to really hammer home the message but is just saying the same thing in a different way – I got it the first twenty times, don’t need you to say it again!
  • The writing is so bad I can’t take reading it anymore but still want to know the outcome of the piece

I am the kind of person that will read anything.  I have been known to read the backs of lotion, shampoo, conditioner and even hand soap bottles when there is nothing else available to read in the situation.  I read magazine articles about things I have no interest in whatsoever when they are all that is available (usually doctor’s offices).  I read shirts, I read posters, I read signs, I read books I have no interest in for various reasons.  I love to read.

So for me to skip over things or begin merely skimming what I am reading – that is a really bad sign for that piece.  It has to be really bad or really tedious.  I mean seriously. I even read every ingredient on the backs of bottles to kill the time and I will take the time to pronounce each one, think of how it must be shaped, think of the elements in the compound, what type of reactions would be used to produce that compound and why it is used in the product.

Last night I began to think about the skipping and skimming.  Shockingly, it had never occurred to me to really investigate what makes me begin to do it and how that could apply to my own writing.  I remember reading a quote once from an author related to this:

“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”
Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

There you have it.  When you write, leave out the parts readers will skip.  Although, remember that as nice as easy clear cut plots are, the basic framework is not enough.  Nobody likes a skeleton, you have to flesh it out a little.

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6 thoughts on “Let’s Just Skip That Part

  1. With novels there have been many times when I slip into my own thoughts while reading long drawn out filler. Lately I have gotten to a point when I notice this happening, I skip ahead. It isn’t worth my time to be bogged down in a writer’s blathering.

  2. I find it’s easiest to just read the stuff that’s at the very top and at the bottom of the page, as if there was anything really good it’d probably be in an easier spot to notice. This is why I do poorly with electronic books, since those could have the top or bottom of the page be anywhere in the text.

  3. I think some repetition is useful, if it’s told in a different way, or from a different viewpoint. I sometimes think my pieces are too short and I’ve missed too much out. People like detail and the odd reminder of the plot. Can’t argue with E.L. though!

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