Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Thing about Thinning ...

by Tristi Pinkston

Allow me, if you will, to take you on a pictorial journey.

This is me, with good hair.

Here, the hair has started to grow out. See how the side is starting to get poofy. And ignore the silly grin on my face.

This is me, as my hair grows out even more. Notice the poofs, marked by arrows.

My hair, still growing. Notice how poofy it is on the left (marked with a black arrow) and how it's starting to go lank on the right (marked by a red arrow).

And this one is just wrong on so many levels.

As you might have noticed, I have really thick hair. It grows thick, it grows fast, and I don’t always have time to run in and get it cut. Hence, the strange Tristi hairdos, as shown. When my hair is first cut, it’s great. It has some natural curl, so it does what I want without a whole lot of effort. But within just a few days, it starts to act up, and by the time I manage to get in for a cut, it’s just out of control. I tell the stylist to go through and thin it out, and then when she’s done, I tell her to go through it again. There’s really no such thing as thinning out my hair too much. It can’t be done.

Believe it or not, yes, this all really does have something to do with writing. I wouldn’t be sharing my bad hair days with you if it weren’t for a greater good.

As we write, sometimes we add in a lot of filler, thinking that the more we add, the better the story will be. We throw in descriptions and actions and dialogue and exposition, all of which help plump up the word count, but in the end, have we really bettered the book, or are we just making it poofy? Do we need to go through and thin it out?

We should also be careful not to make our books too sparse. You could thin my hair out for a full year and still not make it too thin, but you can definitely make a book too thin. Have you described your characters enough so the reader knows what they look like? Can they envision the building or the room or the garden where your story is set? Do they know how your character feels about their circumstances?

Next time you sit down to write, think about me and my poofy hair. Is it time to thin things out, or have you hit on the balance that will bring out the true beauty in your story?


Susan Corpany Curtis said...

I think the book I just wrote is big eighties' hair. I suppose one could continue the metaphor and suggest that it is best to hire a professional hairdresser than to try and trim your own hair. And if you let a loved one trim your hair, they'll tell you it looks nice and you'll have crooked bangs.

Jillayne Clements said...

I love your sense of humor, Tristi. Very good point about the thinning. :)

Tristi Pinkston said...

Good points, Susan! And thanks, Jillayne!

Karlene said...

Hmmmm. I think my WIP is bald. :s

kersten campbell said...

You are a treasure! I love your posts!