Author Jen Wylie on Cut the Crap: Literary Diarrhea

I have on today fantasy author, Jen Wylie. She’s more sweet than wily and talking today about keeping your writing short no matter what the mode.

Cut the Crap: Literary Diarrhea by Jen Wylie

Jen Wylie

Most of you have probably heard of verbal diarrhea. You know, those people that just can’t stop talking, and not only that, ramble on and on. Growing up I had many cases of this myself (as many children do). Not only did I talk constantly, I spoke fast. My family often made jokes I should be an auctioneer when I grow up. I did eventually slow down, and not talk so much, almost to the point that now I am often considered to be rather shy.

Literary diarrhea, though perhaps not quite a common (or at least noticed as such) is still found regularly enough, in some books, or more often on blogs. There are two main problems with literary diarrhea; boredom and confusion for the reader. A good editor should be able to help a writer clean up any MS that has too much fluff or rambling (this is often called tightening the story).

Blogs are another matter entirely. I’ve come across some where posts just ramble on, and on…and on. I’m not talking about a general rambling post, but those that are so extreme you’re required to hit the ‘next page’ buttom. Now there is a difference between a long post, and a long rambling one. Some are full of a lot of great information, others…not so much. Common mistakes are being repetitive or going off topic. So what? Want to guess how many times I’ve left a blog, not even finishing the post, because of its rambling nature? Lots.

Remember back in school when you were taught to have a main topic and supporting facts? Though basic, this is a great thing to remember. Keep it simple and don’t babble to the point where readers would rather jab out their eyeballs with dull scissors!

My point here, edit your work, be it a blog or a book. Cut out the crap. Be concise and to the point. A great blog post will engage the reader and not bore them. A nice tight post with relevant information will get more views, shares and likes.

Now to avoid this post becoming a case of diarrhea…I’ll leave off here. :) Do feel free to post your comments and thoughts! Have you come across instances of literary diarrhea? Are you guilty of it yourself? Or do you think I’m just full of crap?

About the Author:

Jennifer Wylie resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold. Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales. Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t.

Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel published in 2011 by Echelon Press. She is also the author of the YA short story series, Tales of Ever, as well as the shorts Jump and The Forgotten Echo.

You can find her pretty much anywhere online:

website: www.jenniferwylie.ca

blog: http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/

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Comments

  1. dgalanti says

    Rebecca, this is true! I have left sites AND books over this too…I skim and then even give up on that. Of course, I am guilty of this at times but working on it ;) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Rusty Fischer says

    Say it, Jen! Seriously, though, this is one I still struggle with and am perpetually trying to refine. Believe it or not, watching foreign movies helped! Seriously; here we tend to over-explain everythig. We can’t just drop a character into a story without a back story that’s almost as long as the MC’s saga. But I’ve noticed in lots of Asian and even some Swedish movies where a scene will kind of start midway through and you just pick it up or you don’t. I’m not saying huge plot holes are left out but the daily, random things we like to obsess about and over explain and detail to death. How did a character get to the yakuza meeting? Who cares; he’s here now, let the bloodbath begin. Waht does the Dad do for a living? It’s never said, but he wears a uniform and always has grease under his nails so, the choices are fairly limited and it’s not crucial to the plot we know the name of the auto garage but just his general nature/income, etc. Wow, look at me, responding to a post about literary diarrhea by goig on and on, but you know what I mean; not every piece of information is vital to every character in every story. Pick your battles and write those up, not the 15 battles that happened beforehand — or how the good guy and bad guy got to the battlefield!!!

  3. Mina B. says

    I am so guilty of this – probably more in my blog than writing. Not all the time, but still. Thanks for reminding me to stop yammering and get to the bloody point! :)

    • dgalanti says

      Mina, I think we’re ALL guilty of this at times! Love that word “yammering” – will find a conversation to use in today! And I try and remember the 2-minute rule. That is that most people have a 2-minute attention span – so get your story across in 2 minutes in a conversation or in “reading time” in an article at the most…

  4. dgalanti says

    Rusty, great advice here! Yes, in talking about “picking up on things” I think we often need to remember that we start a story precisely where we mean to start it. That there is a story before it starts and a story after…and I learned from one author that we need to meet the reader half way. Meaning to give them some of the facts, but not all – let them draw their own conclusions on some as this lets them create the story world in their own mind without us drawing it all out – AND it lets the reader feel smart! ;) Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Kathryn Craft says

    Topic sentence, supporting facts—there you have it, Jen. As a freelance editor I have retaught these paragraph basics over and over. (Writers not interested in clear communication, however: feel free to ignore!)

  6. dgalanti says

    Catherine, I think its OK to overwrite in our first drafts..and then to cut to put it out there – good rule of thumb? YES, cut the crap! Will be a mantra now while writing ;)

  7. Kay @cay_anchor) says

    I’m in love with this post. Logorrhea is my pet peeve; Ken Rand’s 10% Solution my Bible. Would have loved it more if you had done what you said we should do! I edited it. 390 words, down to 353; 2 mistypes, 1 case of something omitted (not quite a common WHAT?), punctuation fixes, grammar fixes, repetition stopped, slight copyediting. But this post gets 5 stars in my rating even in its rambling form! Like the mix of personal childhood and the division of topics/transitions. But love the message best of all!

  8. Irene says

    Hmm. I’ve decided that my blog is where I flush out my brain. It helps me get things out of my mind that have no place else to go.
    When I write, I write what is necessary for the story. When I blog, I write what is necessary for me.
    Good post!

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