Personally, I hate excess fluff in books. I don’t need to know what a side character had for breakfast three days ago. I don’t need the exact steps count from one side of a room to another. I don’t need the movements a character is doing broken down into a blow by blow description of opening a door.
It just feels like a waste.
It’s extra words to slow down the narrative and extra pages to drive the print cost up.But how do you know what’s fluff and what isn’t? (Outside of those super obvious examples above.)Here are four questions to ask yourself.
Does it thicken the plot?
If a character goes to the store for groceries, we probably don’t need to read about it. Not unless they run into someone there and get into a fight, or if the grocery store is just a front for the underground magical society they didn’t know about until they stumbled through a back door or something.
In most cases, you can just skip the grocery buying and get to the plot.
Does it develop the characters?
We don’t need every detail of a character’s childhood. Maybe they scraped their knee at the age of four in a bike accident, but unless that experience scarred them mentally or introduced them to someone that affected their character, it isn’t necessary information.
Does it build the world?
Fantasy and sci-fi books need world building. You don’t have to beat your readers over the head with it, but they do need the information.
Is it meaningful?
Basically, you need details to paint a picture for your readers, but those details need to add meaning too. For instance, specifying the pattern of lace isn’t necessary unless the characters bond over lace or something.
Certain genres lend themselves better to extra detail. Historical fiction, especially set in Victorian times, gives a bit of leeway with this because it’s kind-of a thing for lace trim and brocade and all that extra shit to be described.
But even then, there is definitely such a thing as too much.
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