Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Obvious

This is definitely one I struggle with. Because I wrote the story, everything that's been written is perfectly clear to me.

So it's a common occurance that I send out work and get back crit upon crit saying that they don't know what's going on. Because I can visualize what's going on all the time, I can't see when someone can't.

In those circumstances, the solution is to go back to each scene that misses some clarity and make the necessary aspects more obvious.

On the other hand, I have found that writers make things too obvious. That is by far the number one on my pet peeves list. Because making things glaringly obvious looks like the writer thinks the reader is an idiot. And insulting the people you want to pay for the story is never the wisest course. Luckily though, it's an easy fix. Deleting the reitirations of the obvious.

If the plot is too obvious or convoluted, though, you have a bit more of a problem. You'll have to put your story through substantial revisions to complicate or simplify your story, depending on the situation. 

So if you're think that something's too obvious or not obvious enough, you might want to get your CPs to help you spot all the places to fix...

Look Out for These:

1) Crit partners asking why/how/when/where questions.

2) Crit partners stating that they know something or that it's already clear.

3) Readers predicting the end or not getting the end at all.

Do you make things too obvious? Or do you struggle to?


  1. Thought - in some peoples mind, can travel much faster than they write and speak and before you realize it writing it and speaking the words hadn't caught up; the reader or hearer is left thinking- ok?

    That happens to me a lot and I have a sister like that. I often say to her: "I missed something" go back to... and she's oblivious to having left anything out.

    On other occasions:

    My sister sometimes says to me - ya ,ya- get to the point. In my mind I have to explain a thing - and before I can finish she sighs.

    In some cases, I try to make things as obvious as possible - providing all the details; however the hearer or reader doesn't think it to be necessary. Funny thing is- I don't know how the hearer or reader is hearing - or what they expect; sometimes its difficult to know how much to make obvious or what not to reveal.

    Intrigue and mystery does leave room for thinking and continuation so it's always a plus to leave room for anticipation!

    Great one for "O', Misha!


  2. My endings won't shock anyone but I don't think they are too obvious.

  3. I think this is something I have to deal with, particularly when I'm writing a story that takes place in the tropics. What the heck is a genip? A thrusie? Some explanation is needed.

  4. This is a tough one. I tend to leave out descriptive details, but as I'm reading through with a critical eye for revisions, I find myself writing "just hit them over the head with a 2x4; could you be a little more subtle" in a lot of areas where I seem to repeat and repeat and repeat the point.

    I have a goal of completing my first revision by the end of the year.

  5. I'm not a writer, but I do read - a lot. And I can get annoyed if I'm told the same things over and over.

  6. This is really a challenge when writing non-fiction. We have to balance between giving the information that we know so well but the reader doesn't with overloading them with details.

  7. I haven't had anyone critique my work so I'm not positive, but I think I tend to make things too obvious. I was re-reading a draft of my first novel and I noticed a lot of repetition of points I'd made before.

    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

  8. Obvious! Oh, that's a good one! I haven't done my 'O' yet, now I wish I'd chosen Obvious, obviously!

    I do know what you mean, I'm a playwright and I find that reading my work outloud helps. I know that a novel isn't necessarily meant to be read outloud, but I do believe it may help you.

    I totally sympathizew with the dilemma of being too obvious, or not obvious enough....OH, how I feel that pain so often! I think to myself, "What is wrong, how can you not GET IT?" But then, I take a breath, and go back to see what they are (or are not) seeing...Let me tell you - THEY are not always correct. SO, stick to your guns...after checking out the crit's complaint, of course. You have to choose, when to stick, and when to flinch.

    Great post!

    Texas Playwright Chick

  9. I write mysteries...so I tend to lean more the less obvious. :)

  10. I've been told I need to make things more obvious so I feel your pain. I like to figure things out. Really, I like to assign my own descriptions to the characters because more often than not, when the author starts assigning hair color, etc - I'm turned off. I guess there's no middle ground here. Editors want one thing. Writers want another and readers still another. :) Good post. It made me think. And thanks so much for following my blog!

  11. This is a good point. You want to make sure readers have enough to go on while being subtle enough to keep them intrigued.

  12. This is an interesting question. While I KNOW there is stuff going on in my head that doesn't make it to page, I don't often wonder if I'm making things TOO obvious. I'm going to have to check with someone else about that! :)

    Lovely post!

  13. I'm like you, I think, in knowing the entire story so maybe I'm not giving enough info...or maybe I just worry that I do that. Gah. Having the right kind of reader is so important (not just pals who're happy to give your stuff a look, but folks experienced in giving literary feedback).

    Some Dark Romantic

  14. I struggle with this too. How much do you tell the reader. I err on simplicity if I can, but that's where I run into the problem you started the post with. In my mind everything is as I see it, the words sometimes don't paint it as such.

    Visiting from AtoZ
    Von L
    The Growing Writer

  15. Hi Misha, I struggle sometimes between being too obvious and nowhere near obvious enough!

    This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

    Duncan In Kuantan

  16. I write as if the reader knows everything I know. It usually works ok. Although, especially on competition entries, I sometimes get really weird opinions. I wrote a story of a girl who was having a major panic attack and thought the cat outside her window was the devil. Because I mentioned that she used to sit on her dad's lap, the reader thought the story was about incest! I still have no idea how she made that giant leap!

  17. Excellent post, Misha! That's actually my number one pet peeve too. I don't want to read half a page of explanations about a previous statement and then another half page about why the explanation is important! I know I'm exaggerating, but it sometimes feels that way. Nothing is more annoying to me as a reader than feeling like the writer assumes I'm an idiot or a three year old. :)

    I hope I'm succeeding in not being too obvious in my own writing. I always try to imply and generate questions, than to explain and give answers. Hopefully I succeed. *fingers crossed*

  18. Great post!! I hope I'm not being too obvious. Although, most of the time, I think I'm not obvious enough. My cps are great fixes for this stuff!!

  19. I can be guilty of both. My first book had a convoluted plot that needed simplifying, yet in certain paragraphs I would state the same idea in two or three different ways--a hazard of the early drafts that I got rid of with each edit.

    My pet peeve is having characters feeling identified. She felt scared or excited or sleepy. I like writing that shows the emotion instead.

  20. Great tips to fix the writer's problems.
    I enjoyed a lot to read this.


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