Daily Archives: July 16, 2010

Seven Writing Sins: Gluttony

My nephews were here for a day.  In anticipation of their healthy appetites (and the fact that I miss them like crazy), I bought a few more snackies than I typically purchase for my kids.  Needless to say, soda cans, pudding cups and ice cream wrappers filled the trash can.  To the point of overflowing.

Sometimes our manuscripts overflow as well.

We have so many good dialogue snippets, so many colorful characters and so many unique and heartfelt scenes that we try to pack them all into one novel.  Like my garbage can, however, a manuscript can only take so much and things soon spill out and make a mess on the floor.


  • Just because it looks yummy doesn’t mean we have to eat write it.  Case in point: DH and I saw Grown Ups this weekend.  While the first fifteen minutes were funny, minutes twenty through the end of the movie were hard to swallow.  Oh sure, there were some great one liners, but in the end, it was too much.  When everything is funny, nothing is funny.


And by that, I don’t mean pile the trash in the can like a Jenga game.  I mean balance in the true sense.  Moderation, if you will.

  1. Save some good stuff for later.  Open a file for dialogue and another for setting.  Keep one for characters and scenes so you can easily cut and paste those great ideas to save for a future manuscript.  If necessary, save them for a planned sequel.
  2. Combine characters, making one strong and unique character from more than one bit player.  This is particularly helpful in cutting down on character confusion.  The fewer people involved in a novel, the less readers have to remember and the more they can focus on the MC and the story.
  3. Dialogue is tricky at best.  What tickles our funny bones when we hear it in the bar, may not elicit the same reaction on paper.  Dialogue should reveal character, not act as a medium for writers to state their views or tell funny jokes.  Make every word count.
  4. Description Overload is as deadly to a manuscript as not providing any details for writers to envision.  Everyday things that do not move the story along do not require time and attention.  The following sentence requires none either.  “She walked down Main Street amongst brick buildings and bustling businesses to the mailbox standing proudly on the corner.  Its white lettering had faded and the bolts anchoring it to the cement had rusted.  She opened the blue, metal door, dropped in her love letter and hoped that Jeremiah felt the same about her as she felt about him.” 

In a nutshell, do not over-indulge on the treats or your manuscript will never have room for the important things.

How do you combat gluttony in your manuscript?