View Full Version : To skin your child...
February 10th, 2004, 03:50 PM
I'd ask that you plaese forgive the shocking title and if you read further you'll find it's purpose seeing as the stories are right are as dear as children to me.
Personally I find that when I write it becomes an intricate and delicate art form to me. I can spend hours forumlating a sentence becuse for me not only must it mean and represent something, but it must sound beautiful as well.
Now I've had few reviews, all unprofessional but my fear is that I'll be told I'm too wordy. I'm constantly hearnig how you should use only as much words as necessay and as little adjectives and adverbs... but certainly wouldn't stripping a story to it's bones remove the true essence and beauty of it? Making ti naked and useless.... dull and done before.
I'd love to hear your opinions.
February 10th, 2004, 05:05 PM
I think there's a big difference between stripping the story and tightening up your senteces. A story is one of those things that's greater than the sum of its parts.
When reviewers make comments about the writer being too verbose - I think what they are usually getting at is that there is too much excessive information getting in the way of what's really happening (or at least what they're getting out of the story). Sometimes this means that the information doesn't have to be cut, just included in different sections where it would be more appropriate. Sometimes it means that you just have to be more efficient with what you say. Exercises with flash fiction are good for devloping this skill.
One thing that I try to keep in mind when I write is that the reader has an imagination too, and that I have to balance what I'm trying to get across with how the reader will perceive what I'm saying. Have you ever noticed how often characters' eye-colours are described? What does it really matter whether a given anagonist has blue eyes or brown eyes? Would Scrooge seem like any less a penny-pincher if his eyes were hazel?
All this being said, if it's important to you that you include something - keep it in. It's your story.
February 10th, 2004, 05:32 PM
I've definetely fallen victim to being overtly "wordy" myself at times. I find that it may sound brilliant, eloquent and beautiful to the writer, but to the reader it can seem long-winded and drawn out. I don't believe you neccesarilly have to be wordy to paint a beautiful image or thoughtful feeling such as say Tolkien, rather there are a number of writers who have an extremely sparse style yet they get the point across beautifully, such as Hemingway (especially when it comes to dialogue).
Wordy authors are profusely thought of as writing in the 19th century style...as I've been told this is what category my writing style has fallen into by numerous english teachers at Boston College. When taking that into consideration I think if you want to interest a modern audience you have to tailor your style to meet the demand.
Not to say you need to strip your writing to the bones, but you need to be slightly more concise and find at least an equilibrium between the styles or you risk ignroing the demand of your audience. If you're simply writing for yourself then it's fine to stay on the path you're headed down, but most writers write to entertain others as well as themselves.
February 10th, 2004, 05:32 PM
February 10th, 2004, 05:33 PM
Accidental triple post...only I could manage to do that.
February 10th, 2004, 05:39 PM
Nice to see you repeat yourself, Lukedawg, just to stress the point.
Personally, I don't mind wordiness if it serves a purpose. I also don't mind wordiness if it's moving the story in a direction, any direction, just as long as we're moving. I like to stop and smell the flowers and watch the dragonflies like anyone else, but don't lull me to sleep in that lovely field you're describing. Find your own style and let an editor tell you if it's too wordy or not.
I have a tendency to be underwordy at times which is why I'm currently concentrating on short stories. I've written a good amout and I hope to keep this flow up for as long as I can. I'm finding them quite fun and rewarding. Once I feel I've developed a differnt approach to writing, I'm going to sit down and tackle book 4. That'll be a challenge. Book 1-3 all weighed in at just over 60,000 words if'n yer curious.
February 10th, 2004, 07:19 PM
It's all a matter of taste. Current tastes do lean towards the "slim text", but it's not a given. Hell, in her story Kew Gardens Virginia Woolf turns a snail crawling under a leaf into a story (the only thing in the piece that's consistent enough to be considered a "story"). Lots of words, minute attentention to detail; and absolutely brilliant.
For me, elaborate language may or may not work, depending on context. It is more appropriate in some scenes than in others. Ideally, the language should not compete with content. Example: I've read a novel once, which was beautifully written, but the language only really worked for me during slow scenes:
Lying half in salt and the warm wash of it, half in air that blistered. Eyelids so puffed with light that no more light struck through them, and what did blinded him. Nostrils crusted, the air without moisture between his lips, each shallow mouthful of it a flame in his throat.
All over him a flaking, and the flakes tiny creatures, clawed and with mouths, all light, that crawled into the cracks that had been opened in him, seeking bone. Only when a shadow of cloud passed over did the many mouths of the light desist.
From the beginning there were those among them, Ned Corcoran was the most vehement, for whom the only way of dealing with blacks was the one that had been given scope elsewhere. 'We ought to go out,' he insisted, controlling the spit that flooded his mouth, 'and get rid of 'em, once and for all. If I catch one of the buggers round my place I'll ****in' pot 'im.' He jerked out the last couple of syllables, and the explosion they made, and the silence afterwards, made some men uncomfortably hot. The rest shifted their boots but did not speak. They were not so candid as Ned Corcoran, but did not essentially disagree with him. It was the quickest way; the kindest too maybe, in the long run. They had seen what happened to blacks in places where the locals were kind. It was not a pleasant sight.
I find the language in the second piece just as beautiful as in the first one; yet I had to force myself to finish quoting the paragraph. I had to restrain myself from adding another paragraph to the first quote, though.
The difference is that in the first scene nothing much happens; but the wordiness of the piece manages to give you an impression of what it might be like to be there. The slowness of the language matches the slowness of the scene; scence and language enhance each other. I don't feel the same way about the second quote. That scene would merit fewer words, more hard consonants, etc. A different tone.
You may agree, you may not. Obviously, someone enjoyed the book enough to publish it; somoene else enough to shortlist it for the Booker Price. And I bet there are quite a few readers enjoying it, too. (It's called Remembering Babylon and it's by David Malouf, btw.)
Of course, now I'm curious about your writings.
February 10th, 2004, 10:28 PM
Tightening a story is itself an art form. Without this invaluable tool, a writer cannot seriously hope for their stories to be taken seriously by professionals.
Anyway, most readers find short stories and novels by unknowns a chore if they have to wade through unnecesary words.
When I write now, I craft each sentence carefully. The few words that you do write will have more impact than twice as many flashy words.
February 10th, 2004, 10:52 PM
I'm of the school that if something is well written, the prose will suit the story. I'm a fan of the wordy style of authors such as Janny Wurts, Stephen Donaldson (who you cn see tightening up over his career) and Cecilia Dart Thornton. However, sometimes it doesn't always work.
Janny Wurts is known for being very wordy in her Wars of Light and Shadow books. It suits the theme and feeling of the books, so it works well.
However, when she tried a stand alone, To Ride Hell's Chasm, and tried to write some tight, frantically paced action sequences the wordy writing really clashed with the pacing, turning what should have been an action packed sequence of events into a chore to read.
So, I think it's all about picking where to use what language. Deciding that is probably the hardest part...
February 11th, 2004, 02:43 AM
It seems to me that it all depends on the type of reader you are after, some people like detail others like a faster pace. Though lately it looks like more people judge a book by its page number then by how good the story may be. In the end it comes down to how you like to write, what 'feels' right to you. If you feel that you need more detail, then put it in. No matter what there are people out there who will be interested in reading your work.
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