I went to a fast food place today that just opened but I don’t believe they will stay open long. For one thing, the name of the restaurant was about smoothies. But most of the menu was about wraps.
No problem I guess. Word of mouth will tell people there is more to the place than smoothies, right?
But the real problem was that menu. It didn’t talk about size of the drinks. As far as we could tell, there were only 24 ounce drinks, which is a little big for me. It didn’t tell you ingredients. So some of the wraps could be bowls but it didn’t tell you what was in the bowls. It didn’t spell out the abbreviations used, so I was guessing. Was V for vegetarian or Vegan.
It assumed that you knew what they knew.
So what does this have to do with writing? Everything. I think it was Elmore Leonard who said “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”
We all know lots of readers skip the description. As writers, it is easy to want to leave it out or at least keep it short. It is hard to make description interesting.
And yet, like that menu at that restaurant, we can’t assume that the reader knows what we know. Spell it out. Then trim the sucker, so you too can leave out the parts people skip.