I think I finally get the “less is more” exhortation. “Show, don’t tell” is easy to understand, if hard to do. “Less is more” sounds like an effort to be content with something other than what you really want. The phrase has a hipster hollowness. It’s become cliché code for down-sizing.
But when Buck wrote the very first draft of his novel and it was replete with, shall we say, exuberant, sex scenes, the meaning of “less is more” as applied to writing began to seep into my consciousness.
It’s like the shrimp salad I ate yesterday at our favorite bistro in Pensacola. Who in her right mind would say, “Please don’t put so many shrimp on my salad?” And yet. Take a look.
Too many shrimp of dubious provenance. Too much Parmesan cheese. Too much salad dressing. Too much of everything except restraint. What I had in mind when I ordered a Caesar Salad with Shrimp was crisp romaine lettuce, several (maybe six) large Gulf shrimp artfully arranged on top, a few crunchy (not soggy) French bread croutons, and dressing with a gossamer touch.
Oh, and those sex scenes? They’ve been reduced by ninety percent and rewritten to produce perhaps a blush, a sigh, even a smile, but not a cringe. And readers will know the writer adores and respects women as full partners, not paper dolls.
Joss Stone’s thoughts on Less is More have a nice bite. Enjoy.