OK, that's a bit of a falsehood on my part. Truthfully, I remember skipping over several pages about those topics in order to get back to the battles. I'm not the only one...Jordan's work was publicly criticized about that several times. He didn't seem to mind; he was still selling millions of books and making bazillions of dollars. Honestly, I didn't mind a whole heck of a lot, either. I kept buying his books. Flipping past pages I'm not interested in is a small price to pay...even when added to the $24.95 minus 25% I paid for the book itself...for a great story, really. But still, I intend to avoid it.
It's a more general problem, though. Many authors are praised in reviews for "sparse" or "tight" writing. Harlan Coben was quoted in The Making of a Bestseller with his "single best piece of writing advice": "I cut out all the parts you'd normally skip." Clearly good advice, given all the praise for those who do it well, right?
Again, not as easy to implement in reality. When I released my revised version for a first reading, it felt a little overly sparse to me but I wasn't sure where. Now that I've gotten several responses, I'm a little more aware of where. People don't mind side journeys along the way, so long as the side journeys answer questions that occur to them as they read. I don't mind them, either. That's a big dose of "duh." But again...not a easy as it sounds. Problem is, I know the story. I know that Matt quirks his eyebrow, for example, because Crystal says something that his ex-wife used to say. What I forget, especially as this work grows past 80K words and many, many pages of storytelling, is what the reader does and doesn't know.
Interestingly, I fell on this same problem at the beginning of my teaching career. I started off teaching CMP102, which, at a college that doesn't have a CMP101, is a pretty basic course. Hence, I didn't assume they knew anything. CMP103 was the same...while CMP102 was Windows basics (Windows 95, incidentally), CMP103 was DOS basics. I assumed that nobody knew nuthin' at the beginning, which got me quite well through that first quarter.
The second quarter was a little more difficult. I found myself facing a group of students in CMP103 who, for the most part, were actual IT workers looking to upgrade their skills to the Microsoft Certification that, at the time, was like gold lettering on your resume. Real gold, too, not that fake gold lamé crap. In any event, my assumptions about what they already knew were tossed out the window. It wasn't a difficult adjustment to make, but a big part of my success that quarter was that I did make the adjustment.
It's kinda like the current writing situation. Since I'm writing Part II, I have to assume that the reader already knows some things. Not all, of course...I remember many times in Robert Jordan books when I'd forgotten details from page 10 or 20 by the time I'd gotten to page 1,342,677,832...or so. But it happens, and the delicate balance an author has to find is between describiness..."all the parts you'd normally skip"...and leaving the reader wondering for more. It involves, necessarily, realizing that your reader doesn't know the story anywhere near as well as you do, and making adjustments accordingly to your storytelling.
Word count: 7,350