Few of us are entirely immune to gorgeous, partially-clad people; tear-jerking movies; Viennese pastries or waltzes; or even a gob of imported, cream-laden blue cheese dressing. Overdone, though, delicious becomes cloying, because too much is…too much.
Amplified amounts of awe-inspiring alliteration almost always aggravate more than amaze. After all, the easy way out defeats plot captivating because of causality, characters haunting because of depth, sentences noteworthy because of rhythm, and wording harmonious because echo replaces repetition.
Whatever calls too much attention to itself in prose, even in poetry, fills the space that readers should inhabit. No one likes being patronized. Understate, and readers can participate. Avoid these alternative forms of “telling:
Consider reserving them for constructions like x’s and o’s or foreign phrases like oy gevalt. Avoid italics for emphasis. Instead? “Show” your readers how to read it. Better still? Let them decide for themselves.
~ Exclamation points!!!
No!!!!! Please!!! These distract even more painfully than alliteration or italics!!! See what I mean? Again, as they tell the kids, use your words.
~ One-sentence paragraphs.
Every so often?
Over and over?
Such paragraphs hint that you’re shouting or filling space. And if so many single lines are so important, maybe you should rethink something?
~ One-dimensional emotions.
Few emotions actually are. Guilt and anxiety often tinge lust. Sadness can sneak into the loveliest happiness. Limit the number of straightforward, oversimplified, abstractions like “good,” “sad,” “triumphant,” “frustrated.” These, too, distract.
You might quickly surprise yourself by how little you miss obvious devices once you stop relying on them.