To be clear, an overwriter is a writer that usually make their chapters or manuscripts too long, where underwriters make them too short. There seem to be this strange misconception going on where you’re supposed to be an overwriter if you have any business at all wanting to be a writer. Everywhere I look, I see people claiming to be overwriters, almost as if the ability to write more is some kind of testimony of ones’ genius and creativity.
To that, I don’t really know what to say. Except that I’m an underwriter.
… and there’s nothing wrong with that! On the contrary, I quite like it. My first draft finished at 60k words – and that’s very short, I know. The normal range for YA is somewhere around 65-85k. But hey, I’m not worried. That’s what second, or even third or fourth drafts are for.
In my own humble opinion, being an underwriter is better than being an overwriter. I feel like I have more control, and I prefer adding things slowly to make plot points clearer rather than deleting stuff and still having to rewrite the rest in order for it to make sense. As I’m now editing my first draft, I rarely delete things (except when I want to rewrite it). Everything I choose to put in my manuscript serves a purpose. The downside is that I only put in the bare minimum, and I’ve recently noticed that I cheat sometimes by making important plot points happen off-stage, which is completely unforgivable. We all have our flaws, ok?
I think I became this way during my university studies. Every assignment, essay or whatever had a word count limit – and I was that nervous student who was terribly afraid of crossing that limit for some reason. I’m not making excuses, just saying that I think that’s what did it. And now, whenever I’m writing, I notice how I reflect on every section, trying to determine if it’s unnecessary or superfluous even before I write it.
The important thing is that I know what I need to work on, and hopefully, I’ll improve and not repeat these bad habits in the future. But I think I’ll always define myself as an underwriter, nonetheless.
I hope that I’ve shed some light on the misconceptions of overwriters and underwriters. If you, like me, are an underwriter – don’t feel bad! Try to see it in a positive light instead, and embrace the circumstances under which you create your own story magic.