Over-writing or good description?
Before the session ask members to read ‘Economy of language’.
Select two passages from a book that you find to be overwritten or too verbose.
Give half the group one passage and half the other, each with a short introduction to the genre and plot of the novel.
Members should first read their passage and then do the following tasks:
- Jot down your first impressions of the writing style, pace and tone of the piece.
- Imagine the word-count is crucial and you have to shorten this section significantly.
- In twos or threes, depending on numbers, compare your ideas and discuss the cuts, the reasons for them and try to decide the shortest version between you that makes sense.
Share with the whole group and discuss.
In the discussion try to encourage everyone to express why they thought the changes were an improvement, what they thought was wrong with the original, or how they think it has been improved, or not, by each other’s suggestions.
Discuss the usefulness of the exercise in focusing attention on pace and economy of language.