Thursday, April 17, 2014
A to Z: O is for Overwriting
Overwriting turns me off. I can set a book down faster than you can say "Purple Prose!".
And Tolstoy's not alone. Many of the old classics included overwriting. They were written in a different age, though, and I really think that matters. In their time, overwriting was likely a tad more acceptable.
Some authors get it right, though, authors who've written several million words. Steven Montano's prose is amazing. It's chock full of descriptives, but it never feels overwritten. The man has skills. It simply plunges the reader down into his fictional worlds, kicking and screaming--dragged by all 5 senses. So, it can be done, but inexperienced writers rarely if ever, have the skills to pull it off.
Here's my guess why it might happen now. And I see this all of the time. Writers generously (and with good intent) offering advice to other writers to "show, don't tell". And when that advice is received by an inexperienced writer, a newbie to the craft, their first reaction is probably (I speak from experience) ...What the heck do they mean by that??
And then they look it up. And they are inundated with information. And the first take away from what they've sorted out from their search for meaning is this (and again I speak from experience): Describe everything until a 3 year old could sketch it with crayons, and then...describe it again, just in case.
And you smile while reading this because you're pretty sure how that works out. :-)
I continued with my writing journey. And I had a lot of help along the way. Weekend Writing Warriors and it's predecessor, Six Sentence Sunday, gave me good criticism that was never harsh. That was where I learned to put my delicate feelings in check, and to leave my ego at the door. And I work with an excellent crit partner and freelance editor. All moved me forward to a better place in the grand writing scheme.
But, a lot of writers don't continue to learn the writing craft. They go ahead and publish.
Just my opinion. I'm still learning, though. Hope to never stop... :-)
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