If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Monday, January 10, 2011

How Much Explanation for the Reader?

I grew up before the years of music videos, and now resent when I see one that distorts my imagery of the music and verse. When James Montgomery Jackson posed the question of how much description a writer should provide readers, I definitively sided with less is more.

Detailed characterization can be left to the reader’s imagination unless some personal facet contributes to the plot, such as the obsessive-compulsive disorder of the character Monk, created by Andy Breckman. In Monk’s case, his disorder is so severe that when writer Lee Goldberg wrote novels using the character, he had no need to explain. Readers garner personal facets through the characters’ behavior, expressions, thoughts and speech, without the writer telling them. But there is another, similar dilemma a writer faces, a sticky wicket in which I stumble and fight over with editors. I’m unsure that there is a definitive answer. How much explanation should a writer provide to ensure that a reader “gets it?”

My solution has been to spell out my point to the reader, either through a character’s thoughts or through description provided by the protagonist. In doing so, I risk insulting the reader’s intelligence. Insulting people is so not my intention. To clarify a scene, I’ll add a line that fortifies a point, especially if a technical detail such as equipment or forensic tests of some kind are utilized in the scene, only to have it redlined by an editor as redundant. The problem is that when I don’t explain a given point or add that fortifying sentence, editors tell me to provide more explanation. The feeling of hitting my head against the wall never felt so real.

For example, in the last paragraph of the Christmas short story, "The Christmas Present," which I posted last month, my editor and I wrangled over the information I presented.

My mission seemed complete. Dimples met all the qualifications I had on my list, but the case and his lack of middle-age spread still made me suspicious. I decided to hang around, at least until Valentine’s Day. If Bernard doesn’t come through with a dozen red roses, I’ll perfect my skill with rubber bands.

My editor correctly stated that since the angel/late husband really didn’t do anything to complete the mission the first sentence was confusing. I left it as written because I wanted the reader to conclude that 1) the angel was deluding himself, or 2) God had a hand in the caper. Either conclusion the reader drew was acceptable to me. When I told the editor what I had decided, I was told that the angel should acknowledge his lack of influence on the romance or mention God’s hand in the romance. (Although the editor liked the ending and knew it somehow worked.)

By taking the editor’s advice, wouldn’t I have insulted the reader’s intelligence or impeded their own interpretation? In a situation where I normally over explain, and in this situation I felt virtuous in not spelling out the solution out to the reader, I was told to provide more explanation.

As a reader, does the writer explaining what meaning should be taken from a particular portion of the script insult you? Or are you reassured by definitiveness? As a writer, do you face the same dilemma and how do you avoid insulting the reader while satisfying editors? Do you feel damned if you do and damned if you don’t?


Warren Bull said...

Been there. Done that. I was in a writing class once when two people argued back and forth over meaning of a passage. Neither interpreted it the way I had intended. The teacher turned to me and asked, "Which way is it?" I answered, "Don't ask me. I just wrote it."

Pauline Alldred said...

If the ending works for the editor, I wouldn't worry about adding an extra sentence. Some people like to have everything nailed down with no possibility of ambiguity. I think life is often ambiguous.