Overwriting Comments

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My shameful overwriting

By: Shannon Messenger
on Wed August 26, 2009, 14:01:26

Sigh…I was really hoping I would scour my draft and find nothing to use as an example, but sadly there are several to chose from
Here’s one section I found (please don’t judge me): “He glanced at the sky. The night was just fading into the deep blue glow of early dawn, and one by one the stars were winking away. With a slow sigh, he started to pace in the dimness.”
Go ahead and cringe. I agree.
(To my defense…this is from my rough draft, which I have not started editing, but stilll…)
Replaced with: “He started pacing in the dim morning light.”
So…yeah. You’d think with how many writing classes I’ve taken in my life I’d be better than that, but I guess not.
Anyway, thanks for the advice. As usual it was spot-on. I’ll definitely be re-reading this when I finally start editing.
-Shannon

Re: Writing Advice #16: Overwriting

By: Barry
on Wed August 26, 2009, 14:15:28

@Shannon: Props for putting yourself out there!
Your section may or may not be as bad as you think, depending on its context and what’s around it. If this is part of the introduction to a scene, it might not be that bad. You do have some starting actions there, which I’ve talked about in previous posts.
Again, without the specific context, it’s tough to judge, but I might modify like so:
“Above, the night faded to the deep blue glow of dawn, the stars winking out one by one. Sighing, he paced in the dim morning light.”
For some reason I can’t explain, I didn’t like the “slow sigh.” Just didn’t feel right to me. (Scientific, no?)
Thanks for playing. 🙂

My overdone work

By: Raewyn
on Wed August 26, 2009, 19:07:58

Hope it’s not too big a piece.
On a rare day where Isabella was on the surface she heard a commotion from above. A whisper of something strange. Of an upset for the tree. Isabella looked up and saw something hurtle towards the ground. A second later it had hit her on the nose and knocked her over. She blinked at the sky blearily sat up. Something fell off her and she felt the hurt on her face
I don’t know if this simple enough. I’m bad at simplifying things.
On a rare day, where Isabella was on the surface, she heard the sounds of something wrong in the trees. She looked up and saw something hurtle towards her. A second later it had knocked her over. She carefully sat up, her face hurting. Something tumbled to the ground.

Re: Writing Advice #16: Overwriting

By: Barry
on Wed August 26, 2009, 19:42:16

@Raewyn: Nope, not too big.
Take a look at my version and see what you think…
On a rare day on the surface, Isabella heard a commotion in the trees. She looked up just as something hurtled towards her, smacking into her face and knocking her to the ground.
As always, the context — the information immediately preceding and following the paragraph in question — can and should dictate your edits, but this has all of the information you need. The bit about the “something” falling off of her to the ground can go in the next paragraph where, presumably, you are going to describe the thing anyway.
Notice that the main thing I did was make the scene more active by combining sentences and actions: the “something” hurtles from the tree and hits her in face — that’s immediate and sensory, as opposed to saying it knocked her over and then — as an afterthought — her face hurt.

Re: Writing Advice #16: Overwriting

By: Shannon Messenger
on Thu August 27, 2009, 00:59:36

Thanks for being so kind. I like your revision better than mine. Hope you don’t mind if I steal it. 🙂
Oh, and I would have posted even if you weren’t dangling a Kyra Minimate prize in front of my nose (though I must admit I’m coveting one). It may be a little embarrassing to show the worst warts of my draft, but getting advice from some whose writing I REALLY admire (even if it’s only on a couple of sentences) is pretty much priceless. So thanks again.

Authors Who Overwrite

By: Rich
on Thu August 27, 2009, 07:06:13

After reading this blog entry the one person that jumped into my mind was Stephenie Meyer! My goodness they should use her books as course material in writing workshops when covering overwriting… and everything that is wrong with writing in general…

Thanks

By: Raewyn
on Thu August 27, 2009, 07:52:33

You’re right about the context and I understand that. I was trying to avoid commotion because I don’t think that was what I needed. Still it is great to have some one with experience going through my work. I’ll keep in mind to add actions into the sentences. I just have to get through the million bad words.


Overwriting

By: BookZealot
on Fri August 28, 2009, 10:38:08

The weather is starting to cool off a bit lately. I know this well because this morning William tied me to a stake he hammered into the front lawn a couple weeks ago. The reason for tying me up in the yard is to put me on display. I am expected to look the part of a fearsome guard dog. I make an attempt at playing the part, baring my teeth and growling a bit, but only towards the local cats wandering by. I should find this ordeal as very demeaning, but I actually enjoy the opportunity to spend a few hours observing the neighbors. Unfortunately, it also gives the loose dogs in the neighborhood a chance for a good laugh at my expense, but I know that is all just fun and games. In the few years I’ve lived in this neighborhood, I have become friends with several of the strays.While attempting to take a nap, I am interrupted by a conversation between a child and his mother as they are walking by.“Why is that doggie tied up in the front yard mommy?” asks the young boy.

“I’m not really sure Mijo, but I don’t want you ever trying to pet him.” states the mom with a look of disgust on her face.

“Does he belong to that guy you and daddy call white trash?” asked the boy.

“You heard us say that? Don’t you ever say that again! That isn’t something you say in public.”

I miss the rest of the conversation because they have crossed the street. I’m sure that was to avoid me since I seemed to disgust them so much. I shouldn’t say them, the boy did seem intrigued.
I included that first paragraph for context, but I think the problem is in my dialogue. I don’t like how I described the woman’s first statement.
Is this better?
“I’m not really sure Mijo, but I don’t want you ever trying to pet him.” states the mom in disgust.


Re: Writing Advice #16: Overwriting

By: Barry
on Fri August 28, 2009, 10:47:45

@BookZealot: What you have here is less overwriting and more telling, as opposed to showing. And, yeah, the dialogue just doesn’t sound natural; it sounds expository. I would change it like so:
“Why is that doggie tied up in the front yard mommy?” asks the young boy.The mom shivers. “Ugh. I don’t know. Stay away from it, though. Don’t even THINK of petting that thing.”“Because he belongs to the white trash guy?” asked the boy.

“Where did you hear that?”

“You and daddy.”

“That isn’t something you say in public,” she said, grabbing his wrist and pulling him across the street.
My way, you SEE the disgust. You hear it in the way she calls the dog “that thing” and “it.” As always, this is just a VERY quick edit/suggestion on my part, designed to illustrate a point and help jump-start your own editing/thinking process.


Re: Writing Advice #16: Overwriting

By: BookZealot
on Fri August 28, 2009, 10:58:14

Thanks Barry. I agree that it does seem more natural to show the disgust than to just state it. I appreciate the advice. I haven’t written much dialogue and really need to work on that aspect.

A really old story I wrote o.O

By: Dana Magee
on Fri August 28, 2009, 12:44:48

This was my first copy. I know its not much different:
Skale promenade down the cold streets, an evil wind tickled her back and caressed her back. She hugged her jacket, making it cling tighter around her pettie body. She listened to the car horns blaring at her as she marched up the steep hill and leaped over the fence where she had been the previous day. She sat once again, back against the cold fence, letting the feirce wind now run across her smooth cheeks, thinking to herself. Laughing at how last night was was so specitacular. How much she loved Josh. So many thoughts and memories racing through her mind. She closed her eyes and dreamt of her and Josh getting married. He had often spoken about leading me down the ilse, my white dress flowing with petals of roses flying behind me as he flashed me a daring smile.—And this is my edit:
Skale walked down the cold streets, an evil wind tickled her back. She pulled her jacket tighter around her. She listened to the car horn blaring at her as she walked up the steep hill and jumped over the fence where she had been the previous day. She sat once again, back against the fence, thinking to herself. Laughing at how last night was. How much she loved Josh. So many things running through her mind. She closed her eyes and day dream of her and Josh getting married. He had often spoken about getting married.


Re: Writing Advice #16: Overwriting

By: Barry
on Fri August 28, 2009, 12:57:05

@Dana: Try this on for size:
Skale walked down the cold streets, pulling her jacket tight against an evil wind as car horns blared all around her. Up the steep hill and then a quick jump over the fence to yesterday’s spot, where sat once again, back to the fence, thinking, laughing to herself about last night. About how much she loved Josh. She closed her eyes and daydreamed — Josh had often spoken about getting married…

Looking Back, it’s pretty bad

By: Ashley Em
on Fri August 28, 2009, 16:52:55

“Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!” My annoying alarm shouted out at my sleeping figure. I got up and whacked it with my science book until it was no more.“Oops, guess I’ll have to get a new one.” I said, shrugging and getting dressed. I did all the usual morning stuff, you know, brush your teeth, brush your hair, eat breakfast yeah, yeah.As always, I was wearing my school uniform. I threw on a pink and black tie and put gel in my short, dark green hair. I stretched and grabbed my book bag, walking to school yet again.

I didn’t say good bye to Mom or Dad as I left. They were probably still fast asleep. I bet they drooled. Whatever, let’s get back to me. Once again, Jason ran over to me.

“Hey Tris! Can I walk with you?” He asked, running over and walking right beside me.

“You already are.” I said nonchalantly. It was a daily routine. We said the same exact thing every single day. It was getting old. We walked together into our homeroom, Mrs. Brooke’s class, and sat in our assigned seats.
Geez, it’s just all around horrible.
My rewrite:
My alarm clock was screeching beside my bed. I groaned and grabbed the first thing I saw, a science book, and destroyed it. Afterward, I got ready for school.

I took a bite out of my toast and combed my dyed green hair quickly. After locking up the house, I walked out onto the sidewalk where Jason ambushed me.

“Hey, Tris, you mind if I walk to school with you?” He asked.

“You already are.”

“Right!” He said with a cheesy grin. So far, it was an average day, the same as every other.

Damn. This routine was getting old.


Re: Writing Advice #16: Overwriting

By: Barry
on Fri August 28, 2009, 20:03:51

@Ashley: Your first version is too wordy, but in all honesty, I think you lost some of the oomph with the second one. Let’s try this…
My annoying alarm clock wouldn’t stop screaming at me, so I whacked it with my science book until it was no more. Oops. I’d have to get a new one. Again.I did all the usual morning stuff: the brushing of teeth and hair, the breakfast, yeah, yeah, yeah. Threw on the usual school uniform, this time with a pink and black tie, and put gel in my short, dark green hair.I didn’t bother with a good bye to Mom or Dad. They were probably still fast asleep. I bet they drooled.

Jason ran over to me as I left the house. “Hey Tris! Can I walk with you?”

“You already are,” I said for the millionth time. We said the same exact thing every single day. The same damn routine was getting old.


Overwriting

By: Tye
on Sat August 29, 2009, 10:47:51

I found the most awful and embarrassing example in something I wrote when I was 12, I hope it counts…
THEN -The brilliant white unicorn glittered and shimmered like an opalescent pearl in the dazzling sunlight
NOW -The Unicorn literally glowed in the sun, almost blinding to look at directly.
Still bad but hey, it was worth a shot!

Master of Verbosity (Death seer excerpt)

By: Justin B. (fantastyfreak)
on Sat August 29, 2009, 15:56:12

Note: Admittedly much of my writing’s overwrought. And there are far too many sentences of description. The excessive amount of the latter really detaches the reader from becoming invested within the story;due to my writing’s disjointed nature. Here’s an example of description taken too far to the extent where the story’s main action appears missing.“Train three shall be departing in around three minutes, please have your ticket stubs and photo “ID” for boarding,” a cacophonous voice reverberated throughout the chasms of the subway’s seemly endless passages, lined with brayed, sullied bricks. Occupied businessmen garbed with black and blue suit coats dashed expediently to their assigned boarding platform. The faces of every person rushing to their respective places shared a commonality, a vacant stare, void of any indiscernible emotion.Correction:
“Please have “ID’s” as you’re boarding..” a cacophonous voice reverberated through the subway station. Upon the announcement, a group of fifty people quickly boarded the appropriate train. Most of them seemed ignorant of their surroundings as their minds mainly focused on arriving home in one piece.
If I had wanted; I could have caught a glimpse of their inevitable demises.But instead I wish to maintain my sanity for at least another week. For I have had far too many accidental sights within the last week. And the last one nearly squelched my remaining rationality.
Instead I preferred the life of a indigent, constantly wandering city to city. Always keeping my eyes from gazing upon the eyes of another. As my death sight was triggered by catching a glance of another person’s irises.


Re: Writing Advice #16: Overwriting

By: Barry
on Sat August 29, 2009, 19:28:45

@Justin: See what you think of this… Notice how words like “cacophonous” aren’t necessary when you use a verb like “reverberated” because the nature of the voice is sort of implied by the verb. That’s one way to cut down on adjectives — use good verbs. Also, there was no real logical transition to the bit about being indigent — that sentence sort of interrupts the flow of the talk of sanity and the death sight, so I took it out. You can work it in elsewhere.
“Please have IDs ready as you board…” the voice reverberated throughout the subway station. Almost as one, a group boarded the train, most of them so focused on arriving home in one piece that paid little attention to their surroundings.
If I wanted, I could have glimpsed their inevitable demises. But instead I chose to maintain my sanity for at least another week. I’d had far too many accidental sights within the last week…and the last one nearly squelched what was left of my rationality. So I took care to keep my eyes lowered, lest I gaze upon the eyes of another — my death sight was triggered by the slightest glance at another person’s irises.

Re: Writing Advice #16: Overwriting

By: Barry
on Mon September 07, 2009, 22:36:30

Hey, everyone! Thanks for participating. BTW, Raewyn was the winner of the Kyra minimate.