The Curse of Overwriting

I’ve been talking to my friends in the business quite a bit lately. Do you know what they’re complaining about these days? OVERWRITING.

It’s is a common problem. Lots of writers do it. And it stalls a lot of otherwise saleable manuscripts.

Here’s are some examples I pulled from one of my own novels. It’s several years old and abandoned in the depths of a file cabinet. It never sold, even though there was quite a bit of interest in it. Part of the reason it’s still at my house instead of on your bookshelf is my OVERWRITING. The examples below were noted by several agents and editors alike.

Example 1:
She waited for David to drive away then she shook her head to clear her body of the image of the handsome Marine.

This is what I should have written:
She watched his taillights dissappear. She shook her head to clear the image of the handsome Marine.

Example 2 :
On Tuesday, she’d been thirty minutes late and by the time she arrived, Andrew, her eight-year old nephew, was the last kid waiting.

I should have written:
She’d been thirty minutes late on Tuesday. Andrew was the last kid waiting.

See how those small edits changed the readability and the pace of those sentences? Part of becoming a better writer is learning the economy of words and the power of words. Less is usually more.

If you have an OVERWRITTEN sentence, post it on the comments and maybe our bloggers can help you pare it down.

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