I just read a review of a book--wherein this word, "over-written" is used to describe books that are seen in a negative light--bloated is another word that is mentioned. That I understand. I like lean plots myself--no padding or unnecessary and or irrelevant wordage--which can be rambling and distract from the core points of the story.
But as for something being over-written--can't say that I have heard the expression much--perhaps only once.
Does it mean too wordy, too descriptive--if it does, isn't that the same as bloated?
What does it mean to you guys?
And thanks!

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Bloated can simply mean there's too much story, too many things happen. Over-written generally means over-explained.

There's a tough balance when writing a book to give the reader enough information to keep them interested and moving forward, but not so much that it feels like a boring lecture of stuff we already know.

This can be especially tough in traditional mysteries with clues and puzzles to solve (one reason I avoid that kind of thing) and with suspense. And with humour. And with everything. See, here I go, over-writing this...
Oh John! that last bit made me laugh! Thanks I needed that!
I think I see what you mean. I suppose it can be a tough balance. I don't like books or movies for that matter that I find too complicated for me wittle bwain!
Keep it moving--but don't over do. right.
To me, "overwritten" is the literary equivalent of "overwrought". It means writing more than is necessary to make a point, describe a character, or set a mood. It's the sign of a writer trying too hard, verbiage that sticks out to experienced readers.
I can't improve on John's and Gerald's explanations. I use the term myself when I critique. The thing is a lot easier to see in someone else's writing. That's why readers are so useful to writers. :)
Right. I guess it is easier to see in other writing.
I look for it in my own--now and I don't see it. But following Stephen King's advice about showing it to an ideal reader--well that's probably the fail safe option for me.
thanks I.J.
When my first book, Genesis Beach, reached the editor's desk, I was told I had "described it to death". I had work to do. I agree with John that I take the comment to mean the writing over-described things or over-explained them. It all goes back to the tiresome phrase "show, don't tell". I've found most readers enjoy filling in the gaps and using their imaginations, and the more I write the less I feel I have to explain.
very well said! Yes, hadn't thought of that actually! readers filling in the gaps. that makes me recall Patricia Highsmith's advice about giving readers more credit.
I do thank you, Susan.

Over written means to me that the author should have closed out the book long before he did. It does mean to wordy, to descriptive, etc. As my publisher once said to me "How many ways can you describe a blade of grass?" More times than no less is more.
thanks. Yup see what you mean.
PUtting your (my) book or w.i.p on a diet sounds just about right. Just enough for the story to get told, but too much fat (wordage, etc) puts the book into cardiac arrest! got it!
It happens when a writer is too much in love with the sound of their own voice and goes off on long flights of verbal acrobatics, all the while clearly thinking 'what a clever writer am I!" I always try to remember Elmore Leonard's rule: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
very good! I love that--if it sounds like writing...
Interesting, of course authors get away with that in other sorts of fiction I think. Here in the U.k. in what they call "literary fiction" the writing is often very wordy--at least it sounds that way to me,
but you're quite right. I don't like too much wordiness and I certainly don't like repitition.
thanks so much.
It's true there's a lot of over-written literary fiction, but there's plenty of literary fictuion that's not over-written. Hemingway may have started it - or been one of the earliest - but it's certainly a trend through Raymond Carver, Richard Ford and Ian McEwan (and I'm sure plenty of women writers, too, I just can't come up with one at the moment - Alice Munro, I guess but she has some pretty detailed short stories).

If it's crime fiction it gets compared to Elmore Leonard, if it's literary fiction it gets compared to Raymond Carver.

Oh well.


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