I just filled the salt shaker, forgot to tighten the lid, then salted some bread crumbs. Yep, it was like the old summer camp routine. Half a shaker of salt ruined the breading and I had to start all over.
So, what does that have to do with writing? Well, I seem to be able to find some way to connect just about anything to writing. This time, it’s a case of adding too much of something.
I wrote a paper in a college English class and could not understand why the professor did not like the first page. I waxed poetic! I used lovely descriptive words! My sentences were long and convoluted. I really couldn’t understand why he thought the first part was so bad. Years later (yep, I keep just about everything I write), I read through that paper again and didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or throw up. NOW I got it. Too much salt. Well, certainly too much purple prose. But the second part, the part where I quit trying to impress anyone, and just wrote as myself, was really good.
Two or three years ago, I realized how many “that’s” I used in my writing. Again, too much “salt.” Most of them were unnecessary. I now critically eye every “that” I use.
I also try not to let too much research creep into my stories. Yes, I want to be accurate, but I really don’t need to let everyone know how much research I did by throwing in everything I learned. I just need to put in enough to properly season the story and keep the reader in whatever century the story takes place.
What “seasoning” do you overuse in your writing? Or in your cooking? (I always put in extra vanilla!)