Being a lifelong Hemingway fan—yes, few writers are easier to parody, but few have also done so much with clean, well-lit prose—I’ve always found his “iceberg theory” of writing to be absolutely dead on. Instead of trying to throw everything and the refrigerator into your book, why not have your accumulated knowledge inform your characters’ motivations or the choices you make in telling their story rather than overwhelming it. There’s nothing more tedious than a writer who has to show off every bit of research that went in to his/her saga about 19th century pickle canning for instance.
In this excerpt from George Rabasa’s Views from the Loft: A Portable Writer’s Workshop, the author offers some helpful tips to keep the iceberg from sinking your narrative ship. My favorite is #10: “Research does not make the story. The story makes the story.”