TMI dude!

I was reading a story the other day and had a good chuckle. Not at the clever dialogue or humorous narration, but at what shouldn’t have been there.

It struck me that there is over usage of descriptions and there is over usage of action descriptions. They aren’t the same but they can both become overpowering to the point of ridiculous. The temptation to write a characters’ every movement is one of them. However, the unseen movements are sometimes the best because they are left to the readers’ imagination.

What I’m talking about is something I myself am mindful of. The urge to explain everything. Especially if a character is doing something specific like drinking, smoking, putting on makeup, grooming or eating. This is where the gist, is plenty. All that is needed is a good set up, maybe one more action and an end action. Like all scenarios within a story, they also need a beginning a middle and an end.
Let me show an example:

Scott leaned his back against the cool brick wall as Dale cracked open his ice cold can of Coke and took a large swig.
“So you’re okay with the whole Amber thing?” Scott asked eyeing the red and white logo with jealous eyes.
Dale looked at the can appreciatively then at his friend. “Yeah, I am.” He lifted the can to his lips again.
“Man, I don’t know if I would be. She’s a slut, she can’t all of a sudden be the good girl”
Dale sucked the residual liquid that was stuck in the lip of the can after chugging most of the soda. “I told you she was faking it to get your dammed attention.” He shrugged and tipped the can up draining the last of the drink. “Besides you know I’ve liked her forever.” Dale let out a long quiet burp muffled by the fist against his lips while staring at the empty can.
“So you two are a couple now?”
Dale grinned, crumpled the empty can in his hand and nodded. “Yup. The sex is amazing and she’s way better than you ever speculated.”
Scott grimaced. “TMI dude.”
“You’re just jealous that she doesn’t have a crush on you anymore, that she’s hot for me and that you missed your chance.” Dale tossed the crumpled aluminum into the recycling bin beside the garbage can as he walked toward the entrance.
Scott glared at the back of Dales head. There was too much truth to that statement.
(250)

Not only did the gratuitous descriptions of Dale’s actions bog down the flow, they were somewhat insulting. I think the reader understands the process of drinking a can of Coke. The drink wasn’t necessarily important to the story so if I’m honest it was descriptive filler. Sure, I found different ways to describe the actions but let’s see what happens if I treat the can of Coke like a mini story line and only mention it three times.

Scott leaned his back against the cool brick wall as Dale cracked open his ice cold can of Coke and took a large swig.
“So you’re okay with the whole Amber thing?” Scott asked glancing at Dale without turning his head toward him.
“Yeah, I am.”
“Man, I don’t know if I would be. She’s a slut, she can’t all of a sudden be the good girl”
Dale inhaled slowly. “I told you she was faking it to get your dammed attention.” He shrugged. “Besides you know I’ve liked her forever.” He let out a long quiet burp muffled by his fist against his lips.
“So you two are a couple now?”
Dale grinned, sucked the residual liquid stuck in the lip of the can and crumpled it in his hand and tossed it overhand into the recycling bin. “Nothing but net and yes we are. The sex is amazing and she’s way better at Bj’s than you ever speculated.”
Scott grimaced. “TMI dude.”
“You’re just jealous that she doesn’t have a crush on you anymore, that she’s hot for me and that you missed your chance.” Dale turned on his heel and walked toward the entrance.
Scott glared at the back of Dales head. There was too much truth to that statement.
(213)

I fall prey to showing redundant actions because I want the reader to be immersed in the scene, but I think confusing the need for scene descriptions with character actions causes this TMI (Too much information) problem. It also increases my word count and as a wordy person I need to watch that.

My advice about excessive action descriptions. 
The cliche, less is more, is so apt for this problem. Let the reader fill in the gaps; that’s half the fun of reading.

-Sheryl

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15 thoughts on “TMI dude!

  1. Wow, now that was impressive. The change was so minimal I didn’t notice and I had to read twice to find it, yet taking those extras away made absolutely no difference to the entire scene. Holy cow, that was “unseen” by me, but incredibly good!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the should-be obvious advice! I’m in that stage of life where I’m getting back to what I’ve wanted to do all along–writing (in a creative, wannabe novelist way)! So, my last crack at this type of writing for public consumption was in high school, where the use of overly ambitious descriptive prose was born and ingrained. Time to progress!

    Liked by 1 person

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