Tag Archive - Overwriting

The Perils of Purple Prose

We’re wrapping up our look at Fatal Flaw # 1: Overwriting. Fiction writers often overwrite, and have trouble seeing how this manifests in their work. Our savvy editors have covered repetition and redundancy, how much detail to include and leave out, and just plain clunky writing. This week editor Robin Patchen dives into purple prose to show you what that is and how to avoid it in your writing.

What do you want people to experience when they read your novel? Do you want them to marvel at your fabulous writing skills? Are you hoping they’ll be impressed by your outstanding grasp of grammar? Perhaps you want to dazzle them with your exceptional vocabulary?

Or do you want them to experience a story?

Truth is, often times, you can either impress people with your prose or you can tell them a story, but you can’t do both. So many of my editing clients’ manuscripts are riddled with prose so filled with flowery language that the meaning is lost. I find myself offering the same advice over and over, my take on Nike’s slogan: Just say it. Continue Reading…

Repetition, Redundancy, and Overused Punctuation—Oh My!

We’re continuing our look at Fatal Flaw # 1: Overwriting. Fiction writers often overwrite, and have trouble seeing how this manifests in their prose. Last week we looked at details, and considered how much is too much. This week editor Christy Distler delves into the topics of repetition, redundancy, and excessive punctuation:

The first time I heard the phrase “write tight” was in high school English class. Our teacher returned our short stories and called me to her desk when class ended. “I love your story line,” she said. “But you need to write tighter. I want you to go back through your story and cut out anything that’s repetitive or not necessary. Don’t use an entire paragraph to say what you can say with a sentence or two. And lay off the dashes.”

I no longer have that short story, nor do I remember the entire story line, but I haven’t forgotten the writing style I’d used. Three of its problems were repetition, redundancy, and overused punctuation. Just what are these three writing faux pas? Continue Reading…

The Devil’s in the Details

We’re continuing our look at Fatal Flaw # 1: Overwriting. Fiction writers often overwrite, and have trouble seeing how this manifests in their prose. Last week we looked at wordiness and redundancy. This week editor Linda Clare explores this topic further to help you determine which details in your scenes are important and which can be tossed.

The world is full of details—and good writers notice them perpetually. Yet when you introduce your created world to readers, it’s easy to get carried away. Let’s take a look at how overwriting, or including too many details, can derail your scenes and lose readers.

You Are the Manager

As a fiction writer, you are a manager. You hold the power to guide your readers, managing their attention and memory. By stressing a certain detail or event, you are managing readers by sending the message: “Pay attention to this. Remember this.”

If you attempt to write a scene that includes a blow-by-blow account of what is happening, it may mirror real life, but readers will not know which details matter to the story and which are incidental. If you overload readers with stimuli, they won’t know what to pay attention to and what to ignore. If you understand this, it’s easier to remind yourself to write only what the readers need to know, with a few “extra sprinkles” of concrete sensory detail (CSD) to help make the scene believable. Continue Reading…

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