The term “Overengineering” applies to the practice of making something far more robust than necessary. For example, if a roof requires (through calculations or building codes) four trusses, the builders install six. The result would be more expensive but (in theory) would last longer.
What is the difference between overengineering and overkill? Overkill is when the maker applies far too much effort to ensure resilience. In the above example, this would mean installing ten or more trusses.
What is the difference between overengineering and making a design redundant? A redundant design usually has an extra element to continue working during a failure. Such designs have rules or formulas that specify how to make something redundant. They are often in critical designs, such as an airplane.
I find all overengineered designs have a common factor. It takes far longer to disassemble these contraptions. For example, I often use three times more screws than necessary and excessive glue in my wooden projects. Side note. I recently purchased an extra bottle.
Is an overengineered design better? I find them to be heavier with poor craftsmanship and appearance.
Has an overengineered design ever saved the day? A few times, and that’s enough incentive for the trend to continue with gusto. It’s strange how our mind works.
There is another aspect of overengineering that needs to be explored. It’s fun! Hey, if 4 trusses are required, let’s put in six! I have a box of screws. Let’s use them all! Hmm, that might fail someday. Let’s add more structure. I think I can make this design last for 100 years.
What does overengineering have to do with writing? It’s all the same. A description that should require three sentences will go on for a page, or a quick plot takes two chapters. In other cases, the author introduces unnecessary characters, plot twists, or unrelated drama. Such works take forever to unravel and are boring, confusing, or tedious.
Have I ever overengineered my writing? Unfortunately, I do this far too often, and here is a detailed example of my exuberance:
Does the term overengineering specifically apply to writing? Wordsmiths like myself have spent years inventing vocabulary to describe everything. This means we have crafted specific words to describe a work that requires editing.
Babbling, jabbering, run-on, gossiping, obfuscating, muddling, confounding, jumbling, discombobulating, befuddling, and so on. This means that writers have overengineered their capability to describe overengineered literature. Wow, that is a lot of power. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
Do I overengineer blogs? In each one, I like to make sure that I completely cover the topic. The result is a robust gem that probably has far too many words to vet the issues. But that might not be too bad; perhaps that is why my four blog readers stick around.

You’re the best -Bill
July 13, 2022
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