Why are you pulling up to that gas pump?

Kimmy 2019 -93.jpg

…asked no living person. Ever.

Aside from the small minority of people who pull up to gas pumps only to use the dirty water in the windshield cleaning bucket (and those people are monsters anyway), there is one and only one reason to pull up to a gas pump.

Your reader never needs to be to told that someone in your manuscript needs gas if we see them pulling their car up to a pump. Why else would they be there? When we need a tea or a bathroom or an ATM or those pressed and formed and processed Old Dutch beef jerky treats that EVERYONE KNOWS are the best road trip snacks ever invented, we don’t pull up to the pump. We pull into one of the side parking spots, because the pump spots are for people buying gas.

I see this construction a lot:

Needing gas, Fabio pulled up to the pump.

This is a clear-cut case of the author wanting to make sure the reader understands absolutely everything that’s going on. What if we don’t understand that Fabio needs gas? Will we be lost and confused wondering why he’s pulled up to the pump?

No. No, we will not.

In the same way, we never need to be told when a person parks at the Safeway that they need groceries. It’s true that some people go into the Dangerousway (who says it’s “Safe” in there?) to buy flowers or to pick up a prescription, but in the vast majority of cases, people are there to buy the Hamburger Helper and the dish soap. We know people in real life (and in fiction) need to buy food, but I’d say it’s far more interesting to read about the characters having a conversation while making dinner with the groceries we will assume they purchased.

In fact—and this might seem wildly out there—I would suggest that we never need to know about anyone putting gas in their cars or buying groceries, ever. Unless the book is about gas stations and grocery stores, we all have the same quotidian tasks. Everyone who owns a car has to put gas in it (or if they’re rich, they have “people” to put gas in it for them). Excluding hybrid vehicles, there is not a car on earth that doesn’t require fuel of some kind, which is dispensed from gas pumps that only serve one purpose. Everyone needs food, and some people have it delivered to their doors. The majority of us, however, go to grocery stores.

If there is only one feasible reason for a person to go somewhere, I’d say your reader doesn’t need to hear about it.

Kimmy BeachComment