Okay, so I have a question for you all: do you ever write a scene from your past, and then wonder if it makes any sense to the reader (i.e. if they get the full picture)? I was running into this problem even as I wrote my project proposals and explained the stories that inspired my potential topics. In terms of my past works, I’m thinking about a portrait I wrote for English 325 last year about a unique town my family visits every summer up in the thumb of Wisconsin, and in particular, an outing where we went on a prayer walk and explored a replica of an ancient Scandinavian church. I wasn’t sure if the action and dialog were making sense, along with the sprinkling of scenery description I wrote in. It was especially difficult for me to describe this place because there was something in the atmosphere that caused one to stop and reflect. In general, it’s amazing how easy it is to assume the reader knows all of the details of the scenario, when actually I need to communicate much more than I originally anticipated.
Another question I dwell on is how do you, my fellow writers, know when you’re over-explaining? I’m currently taking English 425, and the other day we were discussing how sometimes the best writers decide to leave out commentary or explanation and let the reader “fill-in” the blanks. I think it’s absolutely brilliant, but I’m a little stumped on how to implement this in my own writing.
The way I’ve tried to overcome this obstacle has been by writing, and then coming back to the piece several times again day after day and seeing if things still make sense and then tweaking them. However, I’d love to hear from my MiW cohorts about strategies they utilize regarding this writing concern.