How do you know when you have too many details in your writing? That question from a participant in my investment commentary webinar made me think of these six tips. Try them if your writing gets bogged down by details.
1. Go with your gut
Seasoned writers rely on their instincts to know when they’ve stuffed too much into their drafts. They look at the rhythm of the piece or simply go with their guts. That’s fine for experienced writers who’ve honed their instincts through feedback from teachers or editors. But it’s not much help for non-professional writers. That’s why I provide more suggestions for identifying when you have too many details.
2. Word count
How long is your draft and its components? To oversimply, if you’ve written a 20,000-word blog post or a 1,000-word sidebar, it’s too long. It probably includes too many details.
3. What advances your argument?
Too many details may overwhelm your readers instead of convincing them. To cut the excess, ask “What’s the absolutely minimum of details that will make my point?”
Pare your story back to the basics. If it’s compelling, you’re finished.
4. Rule of Three
Examples work better in groups of three as I discussed in “What number of examples is ideal for persuasion?” Do your examples comply with the Rule of Three?
The Rule of Three isn’t an absolute. There’ll be many times when more is better. But it’s a way to filter for easy cuts to your excessive details.
5. Ask what your readers want
Do you have family or friends who are members of your target audience? Show them your draft. Ask them for feedback, including suggestions for what you can cut.
6. Are your sections balanced?
If your piece has three sections and one section is way longer than the others, it’s possible that section is too long. But that’s not always the case. Use your judgment.
If you have suggestions for how to recognize when your writing has too many details, please let me know.
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.