15. Less is More

Welcome to my blog on Less is More.

Researching and collating information can be a logistical nightmare. I used to use Word and Excel spreadsheets but flicking between pages and programmes became a hassle and even though I never deleted anything major, it was a time consuming process to figure out where everything was and how to access it quickly.

However, this all disappeared when I discovered Scrivener – see my earlier blog.

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It’s a programme designed for anyone using large quantities of text. It’s incredibly advanced and it’s worth spending a nominal sum on this programme. The spilt screen allows you to store your research notes, photos, videos etc… on one half, whilst writing your text in the other half. It’s a dream to be able to see, read and compare the information against your writing.

Having captured all the relevant information it’s important to realise that less is more. just because of all the hard work you did in your research, there’s no point in bamboozling the reader with unnecessary detail or facts.

In BOOK OF HOURS it was important I used the correct terminology but I didn’t want the pace of the story to be bogged down in unnecessary historical detail.

So, how is less more when it comes to research?

The prologue in BOOK OF HOURS is set in Malaga. Bearing in mind that I lived in the area for twenty years I had to take into account all the changes that have occurred since I left. For example, a new metro is being built across the city and it would be wrong of me to ignore this. My dilemma is to know how will it – if at all – interfere with or be relevant to my novel? As a result it is mentioned and acknowledged but it’s not essential to my plot or readers.

I also needed to make sure that the information of the Semana Santa Procession was accurate and the route to the cathedral is plausible.

Fortunately I still have many good friends in the area. I contacted them and they were kind enough to help me. They sent me links to uTube videos and websites and with their local knowledge of the area and of the Procession they helped revise my draft manuscript.
It’s very easy as a writer to get carried away and embellish scenes and get things wrong. There’s a danger that if the reader knows the area then I’m at risk of losing my credibility as an author. Too much description can kill tension and excitement.

It’s the minuscule detail that convinces the reader of the scene. Describing the senses is always a good option. For example, Spain is flavoured with spices and I tend to think research material should be sprinkled like exotic herbs. Too much seasoning and the food loses the original flavour.

REMEMBER: Smell associates the readers with their own experiences like the aroma of fresh coffee or warming croissants. When this happens the readers’ senses are triggered and they can identify with your characters more easily.

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Next Blog Post: Writing the Revelation.

Andalucia – Semana Santa

Janet Pywell




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