How to write a (crime) novel #4: arrive late, leave early

The best piece of advice I read/heard for writing any kind of novel, but particularly a crime novel:

Arrive late, leave early
(apologies, not sure of the source)

When I’m writing, I tend to be focused on telling the story – letting it unwind – and hearing the voices of the characters. It’s when I re-read, I begin to employ the above guidance. It generally means cutting away pre-, and post-, ambles and, as far as possible, jumping into the action/conflict. Does the reader really need to know in any detail how these characters physically reached this place? Or how they will depart from it? Sometimes yes, but often not.

This may seem to contradict two other aspects of the way I write. (1) The landscape, particularly the sea, is integral to the narrative. (2) I do like my characters to do ordinary things such as eat occasionally, even go to the bathroom. However, my intention is that (1) & (2) will support the story-telling and/or the characterisation and not be merely wallpaper – delightful as wallpaper can be sometimes.

Do you have a golden nugget of advice you’ve been given about writing which you could pass on? How do you feel about bringing (1) & (2) into your writing?

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