Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Don't Use the Big Guns

I ran across this story online and thought it had an application to writing. Trust me, I'll explain. But first, here's the story:

Woman Shoots Self While Trying to Kill Mice

POTTER VALLEY, Calif. — A Mendocino County woman who was trying to kill mice in her trailer with a gun ended up shooting herself and another person.

The 43-year-old woman pulled out her .44-caliber Magnum revolver after she saw the mice scurrying across the floor of her trailer on Highway 20 in Potter Valley, sheriff's officials said.

But she accidentally dropped the gun, which went off as it struck the floor. The bullet went through the woman's kneecap, bounced off the keys sitting on the belt loop of a 42-year-old man in the trailer and grazed the man's groin before ending up in his coin pocket.

Authorities did not release the shooting victims' names.

The mice escaped the shooting unharmed.

Okay, here's my take on this bizarre connection: writers need to respect their readers. When tempted to take out the big guns (READ: over explain or add too much unnecessary detail), don't do it! Our readers are smart people. They like nuance, they like to use their imagination when reading a scene. All the dots do not need to be connected to be understood. Sometimes the big guns just backfire!

All right, I'm off my soapbox now. Happy writing and happy reading, everyone. 


tonya said...

I agree with you, Megan!

Kay Day said...

That's great, Megan, and I agree! I even like to have to look up a new word now and then. I love it when authors assume I'm smart!

And that story is absolutely ridiculous! LOL

Ruthie said...

Good point.

CatMom said...

As a fairly new writer, I need to be reminded of tips like this - - thanks Megan! ~ I hadn't read about that incident, but thank goodness those poor little mice weren't hurt - LOL!! :)

Paula said...

Great application Megan. Too funny!!