top of page
Alt%20logo_edited.jpg
  • Writer's pictureToni

Are you an underwriter or an overwriter?

If you’re writing a novel, then knowing whether you’re an underwriter or overwriter will make it that much easier when it’s time to start revising. Because overwriters and underwriters need to take slightly different revision paths in order to end up with equally excellent final drafts.


So which are you? Let’s find out!



What’s an underwriter?


An underwriter is an author who always seems to write less than necessary for a complete story.


You might be an underwriter if…

  • You leave lots of ((describe this later!))-style notes to yourself in the first draft.

  • Your first drafts always end up shorter than the recommended wordcount conventions for your genre. (Like your fantasy first draft turns out to be 40k words.)

  • Your first-draft scenes are often dialogue-heavy and lacking in action, almost like a script instead of a novel.

  • Your beta readers tend to complain that the pacing is too fast or that they can’t envision characters or settings.



What’s an overwriter?


An overwriter is an author who always seems to write more than is necessary for a complete story.


You might be an overwriter if…

  • You tend to take a really, really long time to finish your first drafts, even when you’re writing constantly and the story is going smoothly.

  • Your first drafts always end up much longer than the recommended wordcount conventions for your genre. (Hello, 500k sci-fi.)

  • Your first draft scenes tend to contain paragraphs upon paragraphs, if not pages upon pages, of setting and character descriptions.

  • Your beta readers tend to complain that the pacing is too slow or that they end up skimming a lot.

You may find that you tend to be an overwriter in some aspects and an underwriter in others. For example, perhaps you really love writing character descriptions, so you tend to make them lush and lengthy, but you struggle with setting, so those descriptions get glossed over.


Image text: Whether you’re an underwriter or overwriter, you won’t be able to tell after you’ve finished revisions. | Toni Suzuki, SFF Editor | Edits by Toni


How revisions are different for underwriters and overwriters.


Underwriters usually have to spend their second and later drafts filling in gaps, whether those are missing descriptions, missing scenes, or even entire missing chapters. And they may find themselves continuing to add more and more throughout the revision process. Final drafts usually end up quite a bit longer than the first drafts do.


On the other hand, underwriters have to spend their second and later drafts cutting, often putting extra descriptions, scenes, chapters, or even entire plot lines on the chopping block. And this cutting tends to continue throughout the revision process as they refine what’s most important over time. Final drafts almost always end up shorter than the first drafts.


>> Not sure how to approach your revisions? Download the handy, FREE draft-by-draft revision guide I created for authors. It guides you through every step of the revision process, from Draft 2 through Final Draft.



Things to look out for while you’re revising:


If you’re an underwriter, watch out for:

  • White Room Syndrome (where there’s almost no setting description, so your characters seem like they’re talking in a white room)

  • Lots of telling (instead of a good balance of telling and showing)

  • Choppiness (where scenes feel disconnected, or transitions feel sudden)

If you’re an overwriter, watch out for:

Image text: Neither underwriting nor overwriting is a bad thing—they’re just different. | Toni Suzuki, SFF Editor | Edits by Toni

Remember, neither underwriting nor overwriting is a bad thing. Both underwriters and overwriters can end up with excellent, balanced final drafts after going through the revision process. Once the book is published, you usually can’t even tell whether the author was an underwriter or overwriter in the first draft!


So which one are you?




 

And if you’re struggling with either underwriting or overwriting in your book draft, or if you’re not sure whether your story is overwritten or underwritten, I can help!


Go from underwriting or overwriting to more balance in your next draft with my Editorial Evaluation service. More info about Editorial Evaluations here.


Or, if you already know that’s exactly what you need, you can book an Editorial Evaluation right here!


Happy revising!

Comments


Untitled design_edited.jpg
bottom of page