The Two Biggest Battles I Face in Writing

As much as I want to break writing into a series of techniques to create a specific impact (see my last post, there are a lot of choices I have to make simply by feel. Most of these decisions are a matter of degree — I know I need tension but how much?

This post is about the two areas where I consistently have the most trouble deciding the answer to that question.

Battle 1 – Too Flat versus Melodrama

Adding emotion is, by far, the hardest part of writing for me. I know I can subtly indicate what the character is feeling by using setting details and the character’s actions. At some point, however, if you want it to come through strongly, you must sell it more, and it is quite difficult to find the right balance.

Too little, and your writing is flat, dull, and uninteresting. Too much, and your writing induces eye rolls.

Battle 2 – Clarity versus Over-explaining

It’s quite easy to add clarity to a piece. Your beta reader says, “I didn’t quite understand why this happens or the relevance of this.” To fix it, you add explanation. Then you find that more questions arose from your explanation. The fix? More explanation.

Too little clarity, and your writing is going to seem muddled and confusing. Too much explaining, and your writing is going to be too wordy and insult your readers’ intelligence.

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