Are You An Overwriter?

eb54a872416ead7c0e1ca63e01d30416--writing-prompts-writing-tipsOverwriting is a result of our own effort to figure out what’s happening in any given scene. Only after we have discovered that core truth can we know what truly belongs and what doesn’t, based on a clearer knowledge of what we’re trying to say and what the scene requires. – David Corbett

So why do we overwrite? Insecurity. Annie Dillard describes one type of insecurity as “the old one-two.” You write your thoughts, feel like you have to explain yourself and repeat what you just said using different words. Remember you want to say it once, say it well, and move on.

Another reason for overwriting is the anxiety of feeling you didn’t give your reader a  clear, concise picture of what’s going on. The reader needs to know, right? Give your reader some credit. Maybe they already know what’s going on based on everything they’ve read so far, or maybe they don’t need to know everything. Leave a little mystery and give yourself fodder for upcoming chapters.

The good news is overwriting is the best problem to have. You just have to find that sweet spot where you give your readers just enough to allow their imagination to take control.

Don’t bog your reader down with needless words. Keep them engaged and moving forward with the thrill of finding out what lies just around the corner.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Are You An Overwriter?

Are You Overwriting?

images open bookDuring the editing process, take a closer look at the wording of your sentences. Are all of those words really necessary, or are they just adding fluff to increase your word count? This is what we refer to as overwriting. Overwriting can result from several fundamental errors:

  • Too many adjectives and adverbs.  i.e. When the yellow, round orb of the sun stealthily and smoothly creeps into the azure blue early morning sky- one may wonder why the sun didn’t simply rise.  If you feel the need to modify every verb with an adverb, or every noun with an adjective, chances are, you’re not picking the right words-Max Keele.
  • Using big words when simple ones will do. i.e. Ascending the stairs instead of walking up the stairs. Seeking alternatives for “said”is another common error, that leads characters to “expostulate” or “riposte”.
  • Too much detail or backstory. Describing the color and length of your protagonist’s hair is fine but it had better be relevant to the storyline, otherwise, it’s fluff you can cut out. Most of us deplore long exposition “dumps” that stop the action dead in its tracks. I love reading inspirational romance novels, but I can’t count how many paragraphs I have skipped getting from the mundane to what really matters.

Remember every word has to do a job. If it’s just taking up space, then it has to go.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Are You Overwriting?

Are You Overwriting?(Revised)

imagesOnce you’ve completed your manuscript, the fun begins. You will need to go back and cut it by a minimum of 10 percent. That sounds like a lot but once you start taking a closer look at the wording of your sentences, and the information included, you will be surprised at the number of unnecessary words you have used.

When I started editing my novel, I took my story one sentence at a time and asked myself if the wording was appropriate for what I was trying to get across, or was it just  fluff to increase the word count. If it’s not adding to the story, take it out.

Overwriting can result from several fundamental errors:

  • Too many adjectives and adverbs.  i.e. When the yellow, round orb of the sun stealthily and smoothly creeps into the azure blue early  morning sky/ One may wander why the sun didn’t simply rise.  If you feel the need to modify every verb with an adverb, or every noun with an adjective chances are you’re not picking the right words-Max Keele.
  • Using big words when simple ones will do. i.e. Ascending the stairs instead of walking up the stairs. Seeking alternatives for “said” is another common error, that leads characters to “expostulate” or “riposte”.
  • Too much detail or backstory. Describing the handle of the samurai sword your protagonist is holding in detail is fine, if it’s relevant to the story line, otherwise it’s fluff you can cut out. Most of us deplore long exposition “lumps” that stop the action dead in its tracks. I love reading inspirational romance novels, but I can’t count how many paragraphs I have skipped to get from the mundane to what really matters.

    Remember every word has to do a job. If it’s just taking up space, then it has to go.

-Jan R

 

Are You Overwriting?(Revised)