View Full Version : What's more important: style or substance?
September 23rd, 2005, 11:43 AM
I tend to like authors who don't overly-paint their stories with big words and pretentious text. I prefer simple writing with amazing stories that just won't let go after I read them. Example:
I love Stephen Baxter, but his novels can give me a headache because he tries to say too much in such a grand style, and his stories don't stick to my ribs weeks later (except Voyage). While on the other hand someone like Arthur C. Clarke or Stanislaw Lem will write these unforgettable stories that are a piece of cake to read. Michael Crichton is the same way.
I guess I'm a simple man at heart, so I prefer the latter type of author.
What do you all prefer?
September 23rd, 2005, 08:15 PM
I tend to gravitate towards authors who have a certain style of content. That is to say, the KIND of stuff they put in their stories attract me. Kind of like the way Tarrantino has really engaging situations in his movies. Christopher Rowley's "Broketail" series and Brust's series on Vlad Taltos are good examples.
September 24th, 2005, 02:01 AM
If the approach to writing can be classified at all, I would be tempted to dichotomize: those who start as storytellers and those who start as wordsmiths, poets. The drive of the story pushes the storyteller into clumsy phrases, purple prose, redundancies, but he has a story complete with beginning, middle and end. Things happen and there is resolution. The wordsmiths often have collages of beautifully sketches images and little else.
September 24th, 2005, 05:05 AM
I'd go for content any day. I would much rather read a book that had a basic style but a great story, than one that was written beautifully but had little substance.
Look at Hemingway. He used adjectives like a miser, and had quite a simple style of writing - iceberg technique, apparently - but his stories had real depth. Farewell to Arms is a good example of this.
September 24th, 2005, 05:36 AM
The drive of the story pushes the storyteller into clumsy phrases, purple prose, redundancies, but he has a story complete with beginning, middle and end. Things happen and there is resolution. The wordsmiths often have collages of beautifully sketches images and little else.
The best writers are the ones who can do both. There's nothing like a good story well told. Myself, I haven't much patience with either extreme. They both have to work in concert.
September 25th, 2005, 11:46 PM
I agree with Beth. Basically, you need both style and substance. Well-written and artfully rendered words without structure will not retain a reader's interest and something that is poorly written but filled with interesting ideas is likely to turn off potential readers. If something is poorly written then the writing will obscure the content.
And even a "simple" style is still a style...
September 26th, 2005, 01:21 AM
Agree you need both and both come with practice. Your use of words, construction the developing of a readable style and how much detail/substance/content only gell after time.
Michael Crichton is as you say an easy read, but his substance is not simple. (ok, his characters are a bit cookie cutter) but for the most part he has done his research into the subject matter he is using as a base for his story and layers it is quite nicely. I am not a fan of his, but my partner is. I think Crichton's books are "male" in the sense they are plot driven not character driven.
And, as Valada said, even a simple style is a style. It is also perhaps the hardest to do. To say a lot using less words, that takes a lot of practice....
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