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How to Fix Overwriting

Updated: Mar 25


Writer: What exactly do you mean when you say “overwriting”?

Editor: Well… it’s basically a word dump.

Let me explain…

When an author struggles with giving too much information to make sense of the story, it ends up buried under a mass of prose.

Too much and a reader gets bored.

Every.

Word.

Counts.

So how do you find that sweet spot?

The first thing you have to realize is that writing a story isn’t the same thing as watching Netflix.

  • This means adding in sentences like:

  • He turned the doorknob.

  • She opened the car door and got out.

  • They talk about the weather, and it’s blah, blah, blah. (unless it’s imperative to your story)

  • Dialing a phone number and switching the phone between your hands and your shoulder.

  • The driver turned off the engine.

  • The driver undid his seatbelt, exited the car, closed the door.

  • He flicked on the light, walked over to the safe, bent down, moved the dial.


Some of this mundane stuff can go in, but when it’s all over your narrative, it's tedious to read.

Reader: *Closes book*

Writer: *Wince*

Reader: *Never opens book again*

We do not want this to happen.

The key is to let your reader do the work.

None of that stuff drives the story forward. Another term editors use for overwriting is stage direction.

All you need to do is give just enough to imagine the setting in our mind, and then get down to the good stuff. The interesting parts. The action.

Readers know doors need to be opened and shut. That they need to walk to get where they’re going. No one is leaving the car running. Readers aren’t idiots. lol

Let your reader use their imagination.

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