Thursday, April 23, 2009

Overwriting

Today is a response topic. I want to ask all of you - what, to you, is over-writing? I want to know your definition. Are there little tricks or hints you use to catch it?

I'm not obsessing over anything in my own writing, merely curious. I'd like to know your thoughts on overwriting.

5 comments:

Windsong said...

For me, overwriting is using a long string of descriptions, whether in the exposition part or dialogue, that all basically say the same thing. Or descriptions that are tortuous.

That said, some writing styles or stories have a more repetitive voice, and that's okay depending on my mood. :)

The Screaming Guppy said...

The biggest overwriting I do is described actions that don't need to be described and/or are already understood.

Like, reaching up to pick something off the shelf. You don't need reaching, its understood that you are reaching when you're picking something up from a shelf.

klanigan said...

Unfortunately, I don't have a good concrete definition for you. To me, overwriting is anything that makes it seem as if the writer is trying to hard. As a reader, I don't want to think about the writer. If I notice that there's a writer at the other end of the story, then something is off. Sometimes that happens because the writer and/or editor didn't put forth enough effort (or frankly just isn't that talented).

The other end—the overwriting end—seems to be the product of not knowing when the story is done. If I've done this, I'm not sure when it was so I don't know how overwriting occurs. But I remember painting back in school. The painting would be beautiful, but I'd want to add a few more shadows, more details, just more. Then it would look crappy and I'd wish I'd just have left it alone. I reckon that's how overwriting happens as well.

I think that maybe some people overwrite by not knowing their own limitations. Every writer has a set of talents and abilities, but we don't necessarily know what all of them are. Although his stories now give me nightmares, I think Stephen King is simply one of the best writers ever. I'd like to be able to steal pieces of his technique in character development and other aspects, but I think that if I did the story (non-fiction magazine work in my case) would seem fake and overdone. Or overwritten as it would be.

Whew, that was long-winded. :)

M. K. Clarke said...

Overwriting is:

•Verbosity.

•Superfluous words.

•Telling the reader what a speaker already said in the said attribution tag.

•A writer not getting out of his/her own way and letting the characters tell the story.

David said...

M.

Sorry to have lost you as a reader. if you're willing to share, any reason why? I haven't written much this month with travel, work and family, but I hope you'll give me another shot.