Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Overwriting: Less Is Often More

If you have a tendency to overwrite--or have been accused of overwriting--it means you're sacrificing pacing for description. Some authors overwrite settings, some character movements...

In the manuscript I'm editing today, the overwriting is focused on character staging and movements. The author is so focused on the minute, physical movements of the characters that it's actually more difficult to picture than if he'd been more simple in his description.

Consider whether your love of description is slowing the pacing of your novel. Can you increase the pacing by simplifying, particularly when it comes to things we can all easily picture. Some rooms, settings, institutions are so commonplace to all of us that we need little in the way of description to picture these things--think schools, weddings, funerals, cold case file rooms, airplane travel, bike messengers... There are so many things common to all of us that the reader doesn't need much in the way of description to fill in the rest.

Focus on describing those things unique to your perspective, story, and characters.