April 24, 2013 by KWills
As you may have gathered by now, I can be, on occasion, prone to verbosity. Redundant repetition bedevils my prose, and I’m a bit long-winded. I rarely use one word where ten will do.
Which makes it more than a little hypocritical of me to mutter “ooh do get on with it” when encountering long-windedness in others. I’ve just finished reading and reviewing a book over at Authonomy, and I wrote, “…the pacing suffers in places from your tendency to explain your jokes.” It was true, but even as I wrote that sentence I was aware that I am guilty of exactly the same thing.
It is often a case of underestimating the reader. I write something that I think is funny or interesting, and then I get struck by the fear that people won’t understand. So I make it clearer. And then explain it again, for anyone who was asleep the first time. Then once more, because I can. By now it is no longer funny, or interesting. It is boring, and an insult to the reader’s intelligence.
Here’s my new writerly resolution: Know when to shut up.