R.U.E. – What Is This?

Do you know what the three letters RUE mean in writer language?

I’ll give you a hint–you don’t want to see these letters written in the margins of your manuscript. It’s a “telling” thing. A no-no for writers. It means you haven’t learned the craft yet, that you haven’t mastered show don’t tell.

The first time I saw these three letters was in the margins of my manuscript from a critique partner.

They mean RESIST the URGE to EXPLAIN. 

In the book, Self-Editing For Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, it’s defined this way: “It’s when the author tells the readers things already shown by dialogue and action–it’s as if they’re repeating themselves to make sure thier readers get the point.”

Let me demonstrate. Look at the sentences below. The words in red could be deleted without changing the reader’s perspective of the story. They tell.

Katie laughed so hard she wet her pants. Steven’s jokes were always so funny.

Sam had morals and if the boss wanted him to lie to keep his job, forget it. He’d find a new one. Jack thought his employer was a jerk.

Grace threw the porcelain cup across the room, shattering it into pieces. She was so angry.

“Hurry up.” Susie was impatient.

“Get out of my car,” Jack said angrily.

Trust that your readers will understand without an explanation. Explaining your character’s emotions or motivations is annoying to the reader. It stops the flow of the story. It’s like you’ve dropped from the sky, interrupting and interjecting your explanation. Readers are going to say, “Duh! I get it.”

Think of it this way: If you’re telling a joke you wouldn’t want to explain the punch line. The joke wouldn’t be funny any more. The joke would loose it’s affect, the punch.

What should you do if you come across a RUE in your manuscript?

Delete it.



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