Sean D’Souza has a great post on Copyblogger today that is intended for copywriters and bloggers but it has great application for storytellers:
I was drawing cartoon strips for a very popular newspaper called ‘Mid-Day’. And every day, I’d draw a new strip, and submit it to the newspaper. And since it was back in the days before the Internet, I often had to get on a train, travel 20 miles, and walk for 15 minutes to get to the newspaper office before the 7:30 am deadline.
One day I ran into the editor. And he commended me on my cartoons.
“But there’s one thing you can do to make them better,” he said.
“You need to respect the intelligence of the reader.”
“You need to write the joke so that the reader almost gets it,” he said. “That way the reader anticipates the humor and has twice the laugh. If you go into too much detail and explain the joke in your comic strip, you lose out on the punch. The reader feels cheated. And it’s all because you haven’t respected their intelligence.”
As a writer you need to respect the intelligence of the reader as well.
In your writing, you’ll often find that the story you’re telling is coming to an obvious end. And so, you simply leave out the obvious end. You simply let the reader make up the story in their own mind.
To read the whole article about knowing when to shut up:
Sean D’Souza, Do You Know When to Shut Up, Copyblogger.
Variation on a Theme:
Barber Shop Wisdom, SFS.
Dr Geoff Pound