Nov 05 2012

The TARDIS Principle for Writing

One thing that I dislike, but that seems to be rampant in the genres of fantasy and science-fiction, is over description.  Unless it is necessary, don’t tell me what color the tiles of the castle’s roof is.  If it’s Autumn, a short description of the color of the leaves is good, but a long, multi-paragraph description of all sorts of minutia that tells me it is Autumn is overkill.  Yes, occasional delving into literary prose is fine.  But fantasy and science-fiction authors do way, way, way too much of it at times in my humble opinion.

Those of us who read these sorts of stories do have imaginations after all.  Let us use them.  We can easily envision what the countryside our heroic knight is traveling through might look like.  So, again, unless it is necessary to the story, there is no need to go into great detail.  Besides, as I have already learned, great detail can lead to great problems with continuity.  The more detail you put in, the more you had better make sure that you remember it later on when you write the next scene where that detail comes up.

I do get the concept of wanting to control the worlds we are destined to create in these genres.  My first draft of Under the Darkened Moon was 200,000 words and that was not even finished.  Getting rid of all the superfluous stuff that I put in just simply for the purpose of controlling the reader, describing everything from the eye color of every character to lush details about the texture of a tavern door, I found that I was able to cut nearly 25,000 words without even trying.  Further editing has whittled the story down to about 138,000 words.

I have adopted, what I think, is a very simple philosophy.  I call it the TARDIS Principle.  All fans of Doctor Who know what the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is.  It is a 1960’sLondonpolice box/time machine/spacecraft that is much bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside.

This is the way I am desperately trying to write.  I want tight prose that conveys a point as succinctly as possible.  This represents the outside of the TARDIS.  But, I want the reader to see a bigger world once they are inside the words that I have written, much like the inside of the TARDIS is bigger once it is entered.

Will I be successful?  That, I don’t know as of yet.  But I think it would be a good thing for all authors to try and implement.

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