Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Up, Up & Away—Way, Way Away

I seem to either write stripped down or over the top, and as embarrassing as it is, I think over the top is better. It's easier to tamp out the flames rather than fan cold embers to life. At least for me.

My editor called me on it a few times and he was right. Elizabeth George talks about going through her first draft and making note of the places where she's written over the top. She even uses the same shorthand I do—OTT.

This morning, I read my current book on craft and wouldn't you know it… the section was about OTT writing. It's like the cosmos are in collusion to knock it into my head.

I get it already.

Here's some of what Kenn Amdahl says in Joy Writing about OTT:

You can't transform emotion into art if you're conscious of the reader. Therefore, write the first draft as if no one will ever read it. When you revise, delete whatever's embarrassing, corny, graphic, or unnecessarily angry before anyone reads it. Emotions are the force that drives fine writing of any kind, but Colonel Klink (Colonel Klink is the name Amdahl gives his internal editor, who he keeps in the closet while the mudslinging creative Bart Simpson gleefully throws words on paper) pounds on the closet door every time you try to access them.

One of two bad things happen when you let someone read a first draft: they like it or they don't.

I think I'll get better as I begin writing my third book (the second is in the self-editing process now) but I'm not taking any bets.

What about you? Are you a "just the facts" kind of writer who needs to fan the embers or are you someone who emotes to the max?

On a personal note, thank you to everyone for all of your good wishes and support for Red Tide. During its debut weekend, when I offered it free to honor my mom's birthday and try and grab a little attention, it rose as high as number 8 on one of the Amazon lists. Pretty darned good for a brand new book by a brand new author who hasn't been tested. I know it happened because of people who want to help me succeed, and for that—and for you—I'm very grateful.

It's all better with friends.


  1. Congrats on the number 8, Peg. I'm a "just the facts" writer and have to get in there and layer, layer, layer. I'm really short on description since I skim or skip most of that when I read. I need to force myself to read the book I have on Description and Setting.

  2. Thanks, Jess.

    I also have to go back sometimes and add description. My OTT moments generally tend to be around emotions.

    Description is tricky, I think. And easily skippable. Unless it somehow feeds the story. Then it can enhance the reader's experience.

    Generally, I think things we skim or skip as readers need to be written well, propel the plot, or not written at all.