Why do writers overwrite? Which is to say, why do they/we use too many words. In our ten years of working with writers, we have made some observations. As follows:
1) Often, it is part of the process. It is necessary for some people to use lots and lots of words to establish what they are trying to say. This is the tossing the paint against the well approach and hopefully, this writer understands that revision is a necessary part of the process too.
2) A lot of writers do not trust the reader. Got to get over this. It helps to define and establish the reader in your mind. If you can do that, you can make the reader gentle and smart enough to pick up meaning in places where you have removed extraneous words. Anybody who belongs to a book club knows that no two people read the same passage in the same way anyway so over explaining for the reader’s benefit is a pure waste of words
3) Sometimes, writers are self-conscious. The subject matter can be close to a writer’s bone and so the writer throws up a screen of words. This is where you, the writer, ask yourself some hard questions about your honesty and intent. You may want to get a second opinion from an astute reader.
Next time, you come across a passage in a book where a writer has used too many words, ask yourself why. It is one way in which the writer reveals her/himself.
There are so many reasons to read.