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Let's talk about over writing

It's tough for us writers, don't you think? We have a zillion words we're not supposed to use, including an entire segment of the language called adverbs (which I do use, btw). Then we're told that our writing should flow, yet not turn purple. Keep it tight, but not choppy. How are we ever to get it right?
Here's my 2c. The most important thing in writing is that the narrative flows. We work on making sure dialogue reads naturally, so why not the same for the narrative? I think that's the secret. Our novels, especially if written in 1st, should sound like your MC is talking to the reader.
Now, would a person actually say every line the way you've written it? Of course not. There has to be balance between beautiful lines and lines that move the story. And if we focus too hard on making every line beautiful, then what happens? Over writing. Author talk. We don't have to prove we can write by making a line beautiful. We prove we can write by telling an engaging story that the reader melts into, forgetting that he/she is even reading a novel written by an author.
What about you? Are you guilty of over writing? I am! :)


  1. Well said! I've read books before where it feels like the writer is overly-conscious of every line. It starts to become wearing when every word is so perfect, so fancy that you have to pay attention to it. Then all the beautiful stuff blends together and becomes unnoticeable.

  2. Caryn -- I know exactly what you mean. Certain books try too hard, and I'm guilty of it too in 1st drafts. But those are the lines that I almost always kill during revision.

  3. Oh boy. All of my drafts are purple with over-writing. Probably half the words in my first drafts are adverbs. I think it's impossible to get good writing until you revise. And funny thing about beautiful language--that distracts me more than anything from the story. I LOVE reading it. But I come out of the plot to think, wow, this writer really had a creative way of describing that.


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