Trust the Reader
Maybe it’s a psychological thing, some innate fear that our readers won’t pick up on our subtlety. So we over write. I’m a huge offender of this, but I’ve seen some published works that are pretty bad, too. Have you seen the “almost” sentence?
Jake was so excited to see her, he almost forgot he was depressed. Almost.
The problem with this is the redundancy of “almost.” At best, it’s a one-word redundancy. At worst, it’s slightly offensive to the reader, as if they’re not observant enough to catch the first “almost.”
Throughout my first good novel (I don’t count my first bad novel), I did this all the time. My mentor, Rob Roberge, left comments throughout the text: Trust your reader. We get it. You’ve already said this. This has already been established, etc.
Here’s how it comes out more often than not:
“Do you like the drink?”
“Yes, I do. I like it. It’s good.”
Here, we have someone giving four answers (all the same) to one question. This doesn’t make the character over-eager, it makes them annoying. Or, on a more basic level, we might have something like this.
Jake shoved his hands in his pockets and slumped his shoulders. He walked through the halls of North Chester High School avoiding eye contact with other students. As he passed by, people stared at him. “What’s wrong with Jake,” they whispered. “He looks pretty upset.” Jake, you see, was depressed.
Why the tack on sentence us telling us Jake was depressed? We already got that from his body language and what others were saying. When you’re editing, go back through and look for instances like this, where you’ve over explained something simple. Trust your readers. But, more importantly, trust yourself as a writer. You’re good enough to show something without having to follow it up with a telling statement.