A few years ago, I watched a couple of videos from Authortuber (I guess that’s a word now😂) Jenna Moreci discussing what underwriting and overwriting, and tips on how to fix your writing depending on which one you are. During your writing journey, you may have had heard these terms pop up a few times; basically an underwriter doesn’t write “enough” for the story, while an over writer writes “too much” for the story.
You might be asking, “But, what does ‘enough for the story’ and ‘too much for the story’ mean? Isn’t writing a creative art form where the story ends when the story is supposed to end?”
Yes, writing is a creative endeavor; however, there are technicalities that go behind what makes a story either good, bad, or amazing, and whether you write too much or don’t write enough can affect the story overall.
As an underwriter myself, not writing enough for the story means creating a story that’s rich and complex for your readers to enjoy. This ranges from describing the setting so that the reader feels they’re right there experiencing it with the character, to creating relatable characters through their backstory and personality. Personally, when going through my first draft, I noticed three things:
- I was very skimpy with my descriptions. I had fleshed out the various settings for the story in my head, but never spent that much time describing it to the reader. As I’ve been going through my draft this time, I’ve been adding more descriptions for both the setting and characters as well.
If you struggle with writing description, here are a couple websites to check out:
- I didn’t have much of a sub plot in the story. The way my story is structured, there are a lot of… I would say “mini plots” that follow a character for maybe a page or two but are resolved within those two pages. Other than these “mini plots”, I had not added a strong sub plot for more complexity in the story. As of right now, my sub plot is a lot more fleshed out than it was before, but it still has some work that needs to be done.
For some more resources on developing subplots, here are a couple that I recommend:
- I know I’m including a lot of Jenna Moreci, but I found her videos super helpful when I was getting back into writing again
- The last thing I noticed was that I had done a lot of info dumping throughout my story. As I was writing my first (and second) drafts, I would get an idea about something that I would want to add to the story, and knew where I wanted to put it, but I wasn’t sure how to incorporate it into the story. So, I would just type the information where I wanted it to go and incorporate it enough where it wasn’t jarring to go from the story to this explanation. Yet, when I read it over, I still was throwing a bunch of information at the reader without making it interesting to read. This can also be referred to as the dreaded “telling instead of showing” problem, where instead of showing readers what I wanted to know so that it flowed with the story, I would just straight up tell them the information. It’s a problem I noticed during certain sections of the story more so than others, and I’ll probably keep running into various degrees of this throughout the story until I finish my editing.
Here are three more authortuber’s I watch that have good tips on fixing info dumping:
- Alexa Donne
From personal experience, these are three things that you may want to pay more attention to when editing as an underwriter.
If you want further tips on editing and writing concerning this issue, here’s one of the videos from Jenna Moreci I mentioned earlier:
Now, time to move on to the over writers!
For those of you that have this issue, I don’t have personal experience with this, but based on what I’ve read and learned over the years, these are common problems I’ve picked up on.
- An over writer may have so many different plots running through the story, that some plots really have no reason to be there and are there for the sake of being there. I would go through each plot in your story and figure out what the purpose of that plot is, or even if there is one. If there’s literally no reason for a plot to be in the story, take it out. I assume you don’t want someone reading your story and being confused about why they’re reading about this character, and then later go on to say, “Well, that was pointless.”
- They may use unnecessary words that just make a sentence longer and clunkier when reading. This could be using filler words or repeating things to the reader that don’t need to be. Out of all the overwriting issues, using filler words is a major issue I have. For me, I add “that” in places where it doesn’t need to be, and it makes the sentence longer for no reason.
For more information about unnecessary words and writing more concisely, here are a couple websites to check out:
- Over writers may also have the problem of showing too much, as opposed to telling. Even though it is important to show the reader information rather than tell them straight up, there are instances when it is better to just give information to the reader.
If it’s something that isn’t important to the plot, but needs to be acknowledge.
Example: Jane went to the grocery store, but when she returned home, she realized that she was not alone. (Then after this, you might “show” by describing Jane sneaking around the house, trying to stay quiet so that she can find the intruder).
Or, if it’s something that cannot be relayed to the reader no matter how much you might be showing them, it’s better to just tell the reader. One example of this is if the actions of a character contradict what the character is thinking.
Example: He knelt on the floor, tears falling down his face, but all he could think was “Finally, I’m home”.
If you want to learn more about showing vs. telling, and which is better to use in certain situations, here are a couple websites I’ve used:
As I said, I’m not really an over writer, so if you want more help on how to handle that when it comes to editing and writing, here’s the other video from Jenna Moreci:
For those of you who have issues with either one, I hope this helped! Sometimes, we need a little direction to determine where to start when it comes to editing (I know I certainly do). The idea of editing your writing drafts can be intimidating, especially if you’re like me and really hard on yourself and nitpick your writing (I think most of us are like this though). However, when you finally have an idea of what you need to look for when you’re editing, and set a schedule for yourself (I mention this in my last blog 😂 My moment of shameless self promo) it can make the whole process easier to handle. After all, most of writing consists of rewriting, rewriting, and (you guessed it: rewriting), so you need to figure out a way to make it easier on yourself in the long run.
Anyways, that’s about all I got for this week everybody! Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you in the next post!