I am an aspiring author, trying to get my 80,000-word traditionally published, though I will self-publish it if that doesn't work out. this article suggests that we avoid it altogether.

I've used Microsoft Word's clarity and conciseness tool to refine words like have to to must. However, I noticed that some things were over-described or a little repetitive, and I tried to fix that as best I could. My novel has already been developmentally and copy-edited on a pro-bono basis, and I revised it according to their feedback and suggestions.

I don't know if this would make me look lazy, but what if I made that look intentional by making my main character say in the present tense something like,

' Sorry if that last part was a little too long. I tend to think and self-reflect a lot. That's how I write in my diary, though.

I recently joined an online marketplace for writers, designers, and marketers, called Reedsy, to collaborate on a professional level. One proofreader who had read the excerpt said that although it was interesting, they felt it was a little overwritten. Another person said that the novel was too early in its stages for their services. However, I also received some positive feedback, as well.

  • 1
    Is your story written in such a way as to claim the protagonist being the author of the story?
    – Llewellyn
    Nov 23, 2019 at 17:13
  • 4
    The reference to the online marketplace has no relevance to your question. I'm assuming good faith (you didn't mean to spam), but please edit your question to remove it. (The only part that seems relevant is that a proofreader said your story was "overwritten".)
    – Llewellyn
    Nov 23, 2019 at 17:15
  • The protagonist in the story is basically a past version of me when I was younger, but with a different name, different family, etc to make it fictional. Nov 23, 2019 at 17:21
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    If you're actually taking Microsoft's tool's advice without thinking over whether the advice makes sense, you're doing it wrong. You're smarter than Microsoft's tool. Look at the advice it gives you, and reject it unless you think it actually improves your writing. Nov 26, 2019 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


I agree with Surtsey's answer: one thing are stylistic choices and characterization, another is fixing mistakes during a revision.

If the problem is "i tend to overwrite", the only solution will be passing the novel through another revision where you specifically take care of this aspect, cutting down unnecessary words, simplyfing sentences, synthetizing turn of phrases in single words when possible, and cutting off any out of topic excerpt.

Placing a disclaimer like

"Sorry if that last part was a little too long. I tend to think and self-reflect a lot. That's how I write in my diary, though."

won't fix it. You can't try to excuse a fallacy in your writing with a character quirk. It's a bit like leaving your novel full of typos and then writing that they are due to the character being eight years old. If your prose is good readers will go past it, sure, but it your overwriting problem is big enough to be noticeable, both readers, editors and agents are going to find out.

Moreover, consider that characterization has to be consistent across the novel. So you may well decide that your main character and point of view has a tendency to overthink and ramble, but he must in this way consistently (not just once in 80k words).


You're conflating two unrelated issues. When it all boils down, a first person account is basically all dialogue (others, no doubt, will disagree). You cannot run a character voice through grammar software - people don't talk like the OED.

I hate to burst everybody's bubble but novel writing is not an academic exercise. After marketing, the success of the work is not dependant academic excellent but narrative voice.

  • Did the reader 'like' the storyteller and characters?

The narrator is a person who talks the way they talk. e.g. One of my narrators is "Katlyn" - she sits down next to you and tells you "everything" (half of it has nothing to do with the story). She would say . . .

Today is Monday. I don't like Mondays. That's a song, isn't it? Sure it is. It's about that girl who shot up half a school. When asked why she did it, she told them she didn't like Mondays. I lost my virginity on a Monday. His name was Bob . . . or maybe it was Dave? Dave had nice hair . . . but so did Bob. Anyway, we were in my Dad's garage and whoever it was he had no idea was he was doing. Bygones. I hate Mondays because I have to collate the weekend's reports. It's not that bad. I'm not going to shoot anybody. I don't own a gun and I don't even know where the nearest school is.

This type of rambling, off-key narrative is popular in chic-lit. But that's not typically what "overwritten" means. Overwritten generally means you over-describe things and dwell on irrelevant issues.

I suppose the answer is yes. If the narrator is engaging - they can talk about whatever they like.

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