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The Big Reveal

July 3, 2013 by Suzi

Welcome to the Big Reveal

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.

Do you over-write or under-write?

Kelley Lynn, Published Author
I under-write. For every novel except my first I’ve added at least 5,000 words or more. For my newest story on submission over 20,000 words were added after I submitted it to my agent.


Lara Schiffbauer, Published Author
I used to think I was an underwriter. When I finished the first draft of Finding Meara, I stopped at 79,000 words. I added scenes and other fun stuff like descriptions, and ended up with 81,000 words. Then I went through editing and ended up with 78,000 words because I kept cutting, even stuff my editors didn’t suggest, but seemed like it needed to go. So, I have no idea what I am!

Chloe Banks, Agented Author
Both! I overwrite at the level of the sentence all the time. I am getting a lot better at not putting in extra words and purple prose, but I still have to edit myself down. At the same time, I underwrite at the level of the plot – always having to add in detail and slow scenes down in the second draft as the first draft always seems a bit rushed. I used to be mostly an overwriter, but I’d say I’m swinging towards underwriting a bit now, just because I’m better at editing myself down as I go, but can’t edit myself up until I’ve seen the book/story as a whole!


Valerie Cole, Agented Author
I always think I’m overwriting when in fact I underwrite. You know the overwriting analogy, “a writer needs to show only 1% of the iceberg in a story and the rest lies under the surface”? I always think I’m showing 1% when in fact it’s, like, 0.5%. I feel like my agent and CPs are always telling me to pull more of the story out from under the surface when I revise.

Jay Bendt, Un-agented Author
Over write. I find it much easier to chop things out than to add them at the last minute!


Mark Koopmans, Un-agented Author
I definitely over-write (verbal vomit) and then cut. Most is 10k from WIP#1.

Eileen Cook, Published Author
This one is a toss up for me as I’ve done both! I tend to maybe under-write. I get excited by the plot and I tend to race to the end.


Are you an over or under-writer?


  1. Suzi says:

    I do both. I overwrite in some ways, like too much internal thought or explanation, but I underwrite when it comes to emotion and setting.

  2. I underwrite. I really like dialogue, so I often have to add a lot more to scene before the book is finished. I added 15k to my last one. I guess I’m a lot like Kelley :)

  3. I tend to over-write my short stories and then have to go back and trim them. But I under-write my novels so I then have to go back and flesh them out.

  4. Morgan Shamy says:

    This was a fun topic. I definitely under write. Then I add the layers and fill in later. It works for me!

    Most of the time… ;-)

  5. Denise Covey says:

    I like this type of interview. I guess I’m an overwriter, as I have to delete a lot once my crappy first draft is done.


  6. Hi, Suzi,

    I hope you are enjoying your weekend. This is a great question.

    For my first novel I was definitely an OVERWRITER… but that was my first and ending cutting the novel in HALF…

    My second novel I underwrote, learning SO much from my first novel. I had added over ten thousand words to the ms from a publisher who wished to read the full but had a minimum word count. I’m glad they did.


    Thanks again for your suggestions and help! I am half way through edits on TBG and am so happy with the results. I appreciate the time you took to help me with this. And for the query too. You’re the best!

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