Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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How can you tell when something is over-written?

A very useful blog post from Emma Darwin on her This Itch of Writing blog.

I particularly liked numbers 5. and 6. in her list.

5) Too much Telling - trying to explain and label everything like a teacher - when you could just Show us.

6) Too much Showing - giving us a ton of detail and demanding we do the maths - when you could just Tell us.

That is so true! There are times when showing is best and times when telling is what the story needs and knowing when to do which is a skill that needs to be learned.

Also number 3. about similes and metaphors. Most of my beginners eschew such figures of speech altogether and I have to encourage them to put some in. A few people, however, seem to have got hold of the idea that good writing involves using vivid similes and metaphors[*] and that therefore the more you include, the better the writing will be. Er, sadly... No. It doesn't work like that.

[*] I remember once reading a jokey complaint that you could always tell literary fiction because nothing was allowed to just be itself; it always had to be described in terms of something else.

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