Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jenga

Remember Jenga?  That game where you pull out sticks and see how many you can remove and still have a stable structure.  Anyone feel like you play that during revisions?

Holes don't always leave something weaker.  Look at lace.  Part of what makes it beautiful are the holes, the empty spots.

I've read books where the author has detailed everything. "First they rummaged around in their rucksack and pulled out some matches. They gathered twigs and piled them in the fire ring. They struck a match and tried to shield it from the wind"  and it continues like that.  The readers don't need every single detail.  There needs to be some holes to make the story beautiful instead of tedious. 

What are you showing in your MS and what are you leaving up to the reader? 


26 comments:

  1. I've been struggling with this. Before April I was working on a different novel and I would write something very similar to what you detailed. For a minute or two I'd go back over everything, carefully, re-read the passage, and then delete it. Repeat every few pages. Sometimes it's difficult to discern what is necessary and what is better left to the imagination.

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    1. We all start our novels with that so we know what's happening. That's what rewrites are for, deleting the things we needed to know to set up the scene but that the reader doesn't need because it's not necessary to the plot.

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  2. I am learning alot from your very short, to the point posts. Thank you for sharing these tips.
    Pam at 2 Encourage

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  3. 'There needs to be some holes to make the story beautiful instead of tedious.'

    I like.

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  4. Oh my gosh, I love Jenga! I even made my MC like it. I never associated it with my writing, but after this post, I can see how it all fits. Well done.

    Jenn @Scribbles From Jenn

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  5. Jenga and Bop-It were probably the most stressful games of my childhood :D

    I agree though. Sometimes it is what is not said that really makes the story great.

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    1. From your childhood? I JUST discovered Bop-it this year. I love that thing. I keep trying to drop hints to my husband to buy me one!!

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  6. Jenga is the PERFECT comparison!
    -it is stressful as hell
    - when something comes out and everything doesn't fall, you feel like a champion
    -you never know beforehand, which piece is actually holding everything together until you try to take it out.

    LOVE THIS!!

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  7. Nice comparison... small things of life teach us the most important lesson ... :)

    POETICbug

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  8. While I'd try to offer glimpses of the obvious details, I'd spend more time on the details that aren't so obvious.

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  9. You sure hit the nail on the head in regards to my writing style.

    Sometimes, I think I'm adding -too- much detail...other times, not enough. Once I find that happy medium I'll...oh, who am I kidding..I'll probably never find that :)

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  10. I love Jenga! And spot on about the holes making things stronger - one of my favourite things about blogging and writing fiction is waiting to see how people fill in the holes.
    Great post! :-)

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  11. Writing and building a story does feel like Jenga sometimes. Clever analogy.

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  12. I agree, just enough details so I'm able to experience the scene. Which is why a good editor is worth their weight in gold.

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  13. I've never played Jenga but I remember the commercials. If I had to compare my writing to a similar type game, I'd say a rubiks cube.

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  14. Great comparison. Revising does have a jenga feel to it.

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  15. Such a valid point. I work hard resisting the need to fill in the mundane details. We really do need to trust the reader.

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  16. I'm a bare bones writer, so I leave a lot up to the reader.

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  17. While I was struggling to find a word for today, I actually considered Jenga. I couldn't find a way to make it work, but you've done it perfectly! Kudo's. :)

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  18. I think that super detailed writing, as you suggested, is an old way of writing. You find this in LOTR, classics, and many period style novels. Nowadays, it seems like authors trust their readers more where the needless details can be filled in by imagination.

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    1. PS: I enjoy playing Jenga. I forgot to add this into my first comment. :)

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  19. What a striking image--I really like the comparison to lace, and how holes are not necessarily a bad thing. Thanks for that! :)

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  20. That's the perfect way to describe it! I'm always having to write bits to fill in the gaps after an edit session.

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  21. Actually, quite a few writers write every single detail. It drives me to distraction crying out, "Get on with the story already!"

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