Say hello to today’s guest blogger, Ann Everett who offers us advice on something that can often be an Achilles’ heel even for published writers…
Overwriting: This is a mistake all new writers make. They over explain either through description or action. Heck, in first drafts, I still do it.
Here are some examples:
Gus pulled his gun belt tight around his waist and buckled it.
See anything wrong with that sentence? Where else do you normally wear a belt other than your waist? If it’s in a different location (slung low on his hips, etc., then you’d say that) Also, if you change the common verb pulled to a stronger one, the reader gets a better picture.
Gus cinched his gun belt tight and buckled it.
Here’s another one.
“You shot me, you idiot!” she screamed, as she pulled a gun from her purse and fired at Gus.
Problem: The exclamation point tells us she’s screaming, so the reader doesn’t need the tag/attribution, she screamed.
Try it this way:
“You shot me, you idiot!” She rummaged in her purse, pulled out a gun and returned fire.
One more example with added description.
“You shot me, you idiot!” She rummaged in her purse, produced a small pearl-handled pistol, and returned fire.
Here are a few more common overwriting mistakes:
She stared up at the ceiling.
Is a ceiling any other place than up? Same thing with ceiling fan. Just stare at it. Don’t stare up at it.
He sat down on the sofa.
Can you sit on a sofa any other way than down? You can sit up in bed. You can straighten in a chair. You can plop onto a bar stool. Watch for unneeded words.
She stood on the balcony and looked down below.
Choose one or the other, down or below. They mean the same thing, so only one is needed. Same goes for up above.
Here’s one with so much description it over-powers the reason for the sentence.
Miranda walked briskly across the high-polished wooden floor of the sunbathed studio, darting her eyes from sculpture to sculpture lining the shelves against the bland, white walls as she grabbed her art history book from the upholstered bench where she’d left it yesterday.
The problem: The reader doesn’t need to know, nor do they care about high-polished wooden floors, upholstered furniture, or bland, white walls. The whole reason for the sentence is to have the character return for her book.
Miranda returned to the studio and retrieved the book she’d left there.
Now, if the sunlight or polished floors reminds her of something that pertains to her past and triggers an important thread of the tale, then show the part that causes it. Example below. But don’t get so bogged down in writing description just for the sake of description, that you lose the meaning of your story. It’s true. In writing, less is more.
Example: Miranda’s heels clicked across the polished wooden floor of the studio. Dreams of having her own work displayed here excited her. What a silly notion. Maybe Mom was right. Miranda would never be good enough. Moving to the bench, she grabbed her art history book she’d left the day before.
Because of that little bit, the reader learns Miranda and her mom don’t have a good relationship, and Miranda has always fallen short in her mother’s eyes.
Overwriting has been one of my bad habits, and I’m constantly working to break it!
Ann Everett writes about small-town Texas where women are sassy enough to say what they want, and men are panty-melting hot with plenty of southern charm.
She’s an Amazon bestselling author. She’s won awards. She’s a top reviewer on a major writing website, and a regular speaker at Wordwyse Exposytions. No need to bore you with the details. Here are ten things about her more interesting than accolades.
She’s married to her high school sweetheart.
She loves shopping at thrift stores.
She doesn’t remember her first kiss.
She hates talking on the telephone.
A really sharp pencil makes her happy.
She secretly wants to get a tattoo.
She believes everyone should own a pair of cowboy boots.
She’s thankful wrinkles aren’t painful.
She sucks at math.
Learn more about Ann @ http://www.anneverett.com
Buy links for True, A Bluebird, Texas Romance