Too Much Overabundance

Touched upon previously, one way or another, one can never say /write /blog /post this too much. Don’t provide an overabundance of action that doesn’t enhance the scene or plot.

Some writers feel a need to detail everything that occurs.

Example of Overabundant Details/Actions:

Lawrence walked into the kitchen and sat at the table, and looked at his sister.  “Hi, Jenny,” he said and looked at the stove, and saw the kettle was still steaming. 

“Hi,” Jenny said and walked over to the counter and got the teapot and two cups, and walked to the table. She sat and poured tea into the cups, and passed one to him with her hands.  He took the teacup with his hand and sipped, smiled happily, and placed the teacup on the table.

Tighter / More Descriptive:

Entering the kitchen, Lawrence greeted his sister and sat on a battered chair at the cluttered table.  He noticed Jenny had prepared a pot of tea and asked if he might have some.  With a cheery smile, she brought over two cups and decades-old teapot. Lawrence walked into the kitchen and sat at the table, and looked at his sister.  “Hi, Jenny,” he said and looked at the stove, and saw the kettle was still steaming. 

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Steer clear of stating the obvious.  Readers can infer what’s happening.  Normally, we take—grab, touch, hold, clutch, squeeze—something with our hand(s).  If, however, the action of taking was done with a foot or device, then that would likely be worth mentioning.  Give thought to what’s [truly] relevant.

empty words = empty storyline

Re a past post, avoid excessive use of non-active verbs like “said”. Dialogue, like action, should serve a purpose—to impart information, demonstrate emotion/interaction, advance the scene.

Example of Overabundant Details/Actions:

“Let me get you your sweater,” Jane said, moving to the doorway.

“Oh, thanks, Jane. Listen Laura, it’s nearly seven.”

Laura looked down at her pajamas and said, “I know.”

Jane left the room quickly.

The three roommates listened to Jane climb the stairs.

Margaret sat down with a shawl in her hands. “I can’t eat a thing this morning with all this fuss. Laura, will you just get over it … finally?”

“Or what?”

Margaret sighed and looked at Rhonda.

Rhonda said, “Please. It’s Jane’s birthday.”

A heavy silence descended, during which Laura watched the clock and Rhonda fidgeted, and Margaret picked at the shawl.

Tighter / More Descriptive:

“Let me get you your sweater,” Jane offered, strolling across the chilly living room.

“Oh, thanks.” Rhonda smiled gratefully and turned to Laura. “It’s nearly seven.”

Self-consciously, Laura pulled at the sleeves of her wrinkled pajamas.

With a tsk, Jane headed upstairs.

The three roommates took seats on the sofa.

Margaret pulled an old wool shawl from the headrest and draped it over her lap. “I can’t say I have much of an appetite with all this fuss.” She eyed Laura critically. “Will you just get over it?”

Her chin lifted defiantly. “Or what?”

Margaret sighed loudly, then swore under her breath.

Rhonda jumped to her feet. “It’s Jane’s birthday. Stop it!”

Tense silence descended.

Wordiness can serve a purpose—if part of a character’s make-up, by all means, use it in dialogue to demonstrate this.

As an FYI, writing that uses more words/details than necessary is called verbosity.  I prefer the less pretentious word: long-windedness. But whatever you call it—keep clear of it.

Author: tylerus

I'm primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. Fact-checking and researching, organizing and coordinating are skills and joys (I enjoy playing detective and developing structure). My fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. My genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction. So-o, here I am, staring up a new blog for aspiring and established e-Book writers. The plan: to share the (long) journey of getting to this stage, and share "learnings" and "teachings". There's a lot I hope to accomplish with this blog, but it may be a while before that happens as there's a lot on the ol' plate - taking care of Mom, working full-time, and attempting to get another book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series written (never mind blog postings and other writing projects). It's very challenging and it's all good. As I like to say: teeny focused baby steps are just as effective as long forceful strides. It may take a little longer, but we will get there.

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