As a writer who creates something from nothing, I often catch myself overwriting. If you are a big name writer, editors leave your overwriting in your books and readers learn to skim and sigh. If you’re not so famous, you must catch your own overwriting and learn to under write. By under write, I mean write with a minimalist hand.
Here are some tips for learning to Underwrite your Overwriting.
That fabulous simile or metaphor that you were so proud of, might be superfluous. Ask yourself, what would my editor do to this?
Omit every “ly” words and see how the scene reads. If it reads dry or doesn’t convey your message, put the adverb back. My guess is you’ve already said what you needed to say and the adverb can stay out.
Omit the exposition and see if the feeling and mood of the scene remains.
Do the readers already know this? The maxim in public speaking is Tell ’em what your gonna tell them. Tell ’em. Then, Tell ’em what you’ve told them. We have to do that in public speaking because people’s minds wander so much. It’s a way to bring the listener back. But, reading a book is different. If you tell ’em too many times, the reader will get frustrated and possibly stop reading.
When we create our early drafts, it’s natural to overwrite. Most of us, who write fiction, are not sure what is going on. Our characters are leading us here, there, and yon. But, once the scene is completed, we do know what we wanted to convey. At that point we should go back and use that red delete pen and X-out everything we don’t need. Even if we love the writing.
If a character plays a minor role in the story, we don’t need a long description. Most of us write bios for our main characters. We know those people very well. But our readers do not need that much detail. Be careful to ask yourself, what does the reader need to know and what can I omit.
These are a few tips to help writers learn to under write their overwriting. What tips do you have?
If you like a story with clean, crisp writing, you’d love e-Murderer. Check out the official book trailer.