Ever had one of those friends who explained too much? Ask them a question, like, “Where have you been?” and you’ll get a five-minute answer. While you sit there just wanting to know where he went, he gabs on explaining why he went there, who was with him, why he went with those people and why he didn’t go with this other person. Yeah, too much explanation.
The same kind of problem plague many student essays. Pick a random sampling of ten or so, for instance, and you’ll find the same issues cropping up: overexplanation, too much unnecessary details and seemingly endless exposition.
How do you know when you’re explaining too much?
First, don’t rely on your thoughts while writing the first draft. No matter how perfect you think it is, it probably isn’t. The only time you’ll catch this problem is during review, so set aside time to go over and revise your work.
- Watch out for descriptions. Long descriptions are usually guilty of this fault, so look for definitions, expositions and depictions that take more than a couple of sentences.
- Watch out for weak arguments. Weak arguments, where you’re usually lacking in strong evidence and facts, can compel you to craft a long and winding explanation to defend your position.
- Watch the pace. Explanations should help fill in the blanks in the reader’s understanding. If your explanations feel boring, dragging or downright confusing, then it’s not doing its job correctly.