Ask Lucy!

 

Lucy,

My editor has several margin comments about “stage directions.” I’m not writing a play, it’s a novel. What does she mean by too many stage directions?
Sincerely, Befuddled


 

 

Dearest Befuddled,

Your lovely editor is merely pointing out that showing a reader precisely how a character gets from one point to the next is perhaps not needed. When your main character gets home, how long does it take her to get from the car to the house?

Hopefully not long. Consider this:

Nessie turned off the car, unlocked the door, stepped out onto the hot sidewalk, closed the door, slung her purse over her shoulder, walked to the house, reached into her purse, got out her keys, put the keys into the lock, opened the door, went inside, closed the door, and sighed with exhaustion.

How about something like this instead?
Nessie arrived late and sighed with exhaustion as she stepped inside the stuffy house.

Sure, it’s important if a character encounters a necessary plot element when arriving home, such as fear that the door was already open or if she walked right by the murder weapon lying along the flowered path. But every step to getting inside the house or to another location is not necessary. Trust your readers to know she has to get out of the car first before going into the house. The reader will fill in those blanks, which will allow focus on that emotional moment of arriving in the house. And hopefully not encounter a lingering stalker who is looking for a knife.

Now put down your mouse, go to your kitchen, get out a pretty teacup, select a tea bag, add hot water, steep, add soy vanilla creamer, take said cup to comfy chair, reach for the top book on the TBR pile, open the book with a sigh, and read for the rest of the day.

Love, LL

 

Excessive Alliteration

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