Overwriters Anonymous

Ah, the eager and enthusiastic author who wants to be sure her prose is colorful, descriptive, lively, imaginative, descriptive, shows rather than tells—and did I say descriptive? She’s never met an adjective or adverb she didn’t love, and couldn’t use a hundred times in her novel. She spurns the simple “he said”; all her dialogue tags are of the “he jeered overly sarcastically under his breath” style. Her heroine doesn’t have blue eyes, she has eyes of sparkling cerulean blue, deep ocean blue, the blue of a summer sky, laser blue, or sapphire blue. And the author reminds you of the color every damn time she mentions the woman’s eyes! She feels that readers will understand better if she repeats meanings via synonyms—”the pinnacle and peak of his desire”, “the initial, first meeting”, “scary and frightening monster”.

You can’t find the story under the verbiage. You need to take a weed-whacker to the words to find a plot. Writing like this can drive a reader crazy. Luckily for readers, these submissions drive an editor crazy, and therefore hopefully never get out in the world to torment readers. (The editors union is lobbying for mental health coverage of job-induced insanity.) Unfortunately, so many self-pubbed authors spurn editorial support and put out poor quality books.

Might you or one of your critique partners or writer friends be an Overwriter? Alas, there is no 12-step program, but Get an editor, critique partners, or someone who will alert you to this problem in your own writing and help you break the addiction to excessive adjectiving and adverbing (and verbing of nouns).

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