That Overwriting Hole


Writer should be good story tellers.

Story tellers are every where you go, that neighbor next door, at parties or standing behind you in the grocery store. You can almost feel when you are in the present of a good yarn spinners. It’s like magic!

They can set the stage with ease, color their characters, and feed us details while never giving away too many details. Now that’s not always the case with writer’s

Most writers are good wordsmith, decent debaters, write persuasive things and are good recounter’s of events. But for the most part  they don’t come across as good story tellers.  Last weekend I was in the presence of a New York Times Bestselling Author. He was telling a story that was for the most part interesting. But what I found strange was his reaction to his listener’s expression. At the end of his story he added. ” Well, I guess you had to be there.”

I guess this is what happens when we overwrite. We fall victim to the ‘guess you had to be there’ brand. Because we don’t get to watch the listener’s or in this case the reader’s reaction to our narrative, we overwrite the story. This is especially true for the young or new writers. We don’t know we’ve overdone it until after we’ve sent the work off to our Beta readers or publishers.

A preponderance of details betrays our fear of being misunderstood. A master story teller trusts that his/her reader can read between the lines.  If Sadie’s heart is thumping hard in her chest as she walks down the dark stairs, you don’t have to  tell the reader she’s afraid. They get it!

Readers don’t want every nuance handed to them. Instead they want room to allow their imagination to roam freely when they read your story.

How to trust your reader is to practice Visualizing them.  Take some time to imaging you are the person who’ll be reading this story. Become the reader that you hope will be enjoying your words. Seek help. Not those reviewers or beta readers, but those you trust and who are actually smart enough to know what’s not there and will get inpatient with overwriting. But more importantly will call you out on them.

This will help you in two ways. You will, on a subconscious level, scale back the overwriting as well as quit throwing every detail you can find into the story. This is a win, win for both you and your potential readers.

Using this technique will probably mean deleting some really good details, but don’t fear, keep them stored somewhere safe. You can always use them in another story. That always make deleting less painful for me.

Do you have ways of overcoming overwriting? Add a comment and let know what helps you.



  1. I practice my storytelling all the time. As much as I love to write, I think I’m a better storytellor because the semantics don’t get in the way. Good stuff here, as always.

    1. That’s true Toi!
      And its why I write with a reader, it helps to listen to the words to make sure I’m conveying what I think I am.
      Thank you Toi!

  2. Ok, came back and read it. Truly some great writing advice here. I do tend to overwrite and the only remedy I’ve found is to be objective and not hesitate with editing scissors. Snip, snip wherever possible.

    1. Thanks for coming back. I guess you can tell I should have taken my own advice. I needed to edit before posting. LOL!!!
      That is some sound advice, being objective in one’s work is very important, and keeping those scissors handled is a must.
      I’m in the process of cutting away the fat in my novel now.
      Thanks SIS!

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