Monday, 6 May 2013

Too Big or Too Small?

With just days to go until our big Vegas trip, Katie and I have been doing a lot of shopping lately. For me it is simply a case of finding the correct size for the first thing that I see and then buying it. When it comes to Katie, it becomes much more complicated. For a start, she is the kind of woman who insists on buying shoes online. Not content with the logical approach of going into an actual shoe store and trying different pairs on, she orders dozens of pairs to try on at home and then sends them all back. This approach may work with LoveFilm*, but shoes?

What really takes the biscuit though, is when she goes shopping for accessories. Recently, I was dragged along whilst she went to purchase a new handbag for our trip. To give a taste of what this was like, I will share the conversation that we had when we entered the first store.

'Do you think that I should go for too small or too large?' Katie asked

'Neither,' I replied.

She frowned at me, suggesting that my reply was less than of help to her.

'Well, if you go for too small, you will not be able to fit into it what you want,' I added. 'By definition it will be too small.'

She nodded thoughtfully, before replying; 'So you think that I should go for too large then?'

'No, I don't. If it is too large, you will have a similar problem. It will be too big.'

'So you do think that I should go for too small then?'

'No, I think that you should go for somewhere in the middle. Why not look for a bag that is just right?'

At this point, she shook her head in frustration at me.

'You're a boy and you do not understand,' she told me. We then left the shop bag-less. A few days later several parcels arrived and I came home from work to find a pile of handbags stacked up in the bedroom. Unable to decide between "too small" or "too large", she made the logical compromise of going for "too many" instead. I guess that she was right - I don't understand.

This brings me back to a point about writing. Authors tend to focus on content and style, but perhaps the most key element of any story is balance. If Katie were a writer, she would no doubt be fretting over whether to use too little or too much description in her books. She will struggle between a story that is too short and one that is too long. She would also struggle to attract readers. If we want to write stories that capture and then maintain a reader's imagination, they have to be "just right". Too little or too much will never do. That is what makes drafting so important. If something is not perfect, then keep going until it is. This is the one occasion when you can never do too much. If only shopping for handbags was that simple.

*LoveFilm is a subscription movie rental service in the UK.

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