1. M9A8E6S4TO
    Offline

    M9A8E6S4TO Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Mississippi

    How much is TOO much?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by M9A8E6S4TO, Feb 11, 2009.

    See, what I've been trying to do lately.. is make my writing resemble my composing. I want to make it flow, and I want to make it create an atmosphere. Just like music. I want you to feel like you're really where I say you are, and I want you to not rationalize, but feel, how musical the prose you are reading is. To do this I need a lot of adjectives, alliteration, and sometimes even rhyme ( Though I have to keep that to a bare minimum ). I have a question, though. How much is TOO much? Tolkien was horrible at this. As great a writer as he was.. nobody wants two pages describing a simple chair. But that's what he gave you. I want to do that, but I want to make it FUN to read. Any suggestions? Here's a sentence I wrote. It's just one sentence.. but if an entire book was made up of sentences like this.. would you read it?

    " The swaying of golden grass around me, soaked with life from recent rains and dancing to the harmonious hymn of whispered secrets riding on the wind, fills my sorrowed soul with a revival too joyous to put into any mere word of man. "

    The grammar might be a little off. It might be a little cheesy. I donno, but that's not the point anyway. Thanks!
     
  2. Penny Dreadful
    Offline

    Penny Dreadful Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    deep south
    I never liked Tolkien. Blasphemy, I know. With that said, I think we all want our work to flow. The sentence you provided there... doesn't really.

    For me, it all depends on the setting/time period/character/ect. For instance, in one of the stories I'm writing now, the character is young and hip and ever-so-slightly insane. Without putting the story into first person, I like to use the main character's "voice" and let their personality really shine through. People seem to either love it or hate it.

    I often use music before I write. I sit there and see the scene like a music video and just get going. Don't overthink it. Just let the words go. Come back later and clean up the mess... at least, that's what works for me.

    And there is such a thing as too many adjectives. I think the art of a short, to-the-point sentence is slowly being lost.
     
  3. RIPPA MATE
    Offline

    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2008
    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    Firstly defending Tolkin :D, he described the chairs etc because he was showing off a world, it wasn't a story focused on charactor or plot or whatever. The type of story he wrote focused on the mileu thats why he got away with the chairs the dwalven ancestery and elvish script.

    But anyway Maestro, i have the same problem as you; flow issues. I just read that sentence in in terms of syntax wow i almost thought i wrote it.
    I believe what you need to practice doing, to make your words flow, is to try and reread it from the perspective of someone who hasn't thought deeply into your story/paragraph/sentence. Then go back and reshape it, by rewriting it or grammer wise.
    I shall rewrite the above sentence (I hope you don't mind):

    'The golden grass surrounding me was soaked with life from recent rains. It danced to the harmonious hymn of whispered secrets riding on the wind, filling my sorrowed soul with a revival too joyous to put into any mere words of men.'

    Now i am a bit beside my self about that rewriting, as I don't really know how much better this is. :p

    Oh something i found is that Grammer helps. And PD is write when he/she says that there 'such a thing as too many adjectives.'

    RM
     
  4. EyezForYou
    Offline

    EyezForYou Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    456
    Likes Received:
    5
    When it starts dragging. This, in my opinion, is dragging: "The swaying of golden grass around me, soaked with life from recent rains and dancing to the harmonious hymn of whispered secrets riding on the wind, fills my sorrowed soul with a revival too joyous to put into any mere word of man."

    Why not condense it? You're trying to make a movie in the reader's head, right? Then you need to make your prose lean and mean, not purple, which means more periods.

    The grass swayed. My soul filled with the harmounious hymn of golden secrets.
     
  5. AnonyMouse
    Online

    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    What's the point? As I read this, I really couldn't see any legitimate reason to heap so many words on wet grass. Also, it sounds as if this is written in first person. What kind of character would think/speak this way? It takes a very special person to have a narrative voice like this. A poet perhaps? Certainly an artistic thinker of some sort.

    And if you want to make it sound like music, don't forget the hook. Even slow, classical music has that distinct point where the power and passion of it comes through and the listener really feels something. If the above passage were music, it would be a flat piece, dragging on, as EyesForYou said. It's as if you're toying with the language rather than driving the point home.
     
  6. tehuti88
    Offline

    tehuti88 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Michigan
    The problem is, prose writing is not music. You can use one to influence the other, yes, but why suppose that you can write one as if you're writing the other? Just because somebody can sculpt a statue doesn't mean he can use that skill to write a song.

    I love really imagery-rich writing but the example sentence went on so long, and became so flowery, that I couldn't follow it by the end without having to go back and read it over more slowly; plus the overelaborate style made it seem kind of silly (sorry I can't think of a milder word, I hope you know what I mean). And that's just one sentence; if your entire story is like that, I would never get it read, and I'm sure that's not what you'd want. "Flow" is more about the words flowing together so seamlessly that a reader doesn't have to stop to think over every single one, rather than about stringing together pretty words. Even in music, if you try to string together pretty notes that don't belong in that order, you end up with a horrible mishmash, terrible discord.

    I'm afraid I can't say how much is too much without concrete examples like the one you offered. But perhaps knowing that the example might be a bit much (at least for me--keep in mind I'm just one reader, others might love your style) is a start. And keeping in mind that prose writing is NOT music composition is another key point. They're apples and oranges--both fruit (a type of art), but fundamentally different. Perhaps more reading and experimenting with style will help you out.
     
  7. Dcoin
    Offline

    Dcoin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    NYC
    To answer your title question directly... yes, for me, your sentence is way over the top. This is a case where the book becomes about the words and not about the story.
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    in a word, "NO!"

    if you want to write flowery purple prosy stuff, write poetry... but even there, florid excess is the sign of an amateur...

    it takes a writer of great talent and exceptional skills to pull off a 'masterpiece' done in poetic prose... and they are so rare as to be practically extinct in today's literary world... i don't recommend a new writer trying to be one...

    writing is not music... the only word-based medium even close to music is poetry... and to write good poetry takes the seasoned, skillful hand of a born wordsmith who's studied the art and practiced till near-as-can-be-perfection was attained...

    so, my best advice is for you to hone your writing skills based on the 'less is more' axiom and be sure you've succeeded in writing better than most in re the 'K.I.S.S.!' principle, before you try to soar where only the rarest of earth-freed eagles dare to fly...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  9. Atari
    Offline

    Atari Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2009
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Louisiana
    " The swaying of golden grass around me, soaked with life from recent rains and dancing to the harmonious hymn of whispered secrets riding on the wind, fills my sorrowed soul with a revival too joyous to put into any mere word of man. "


    Ahhh! Now, this is an interesting topic!

    The problem I have with the above:

    1. The 'golden grass'? Is the grass literally golden? Made of gold? The COLOR of gold? Does this have to do with context, or did you merely decide to describe as 'gold' on a whim, or because it SEEMS more epic and melodious?

    2. "Harmonious hymn of whispered secrets riding on the wind". This does sound beautiful and DOES elicit an emotion from me, but it doesn't MEAN anything to me. Are you saying that the grass is moving because something someone whispered to someone else was carried by the wind, and the grass heard it, and thought that it sounded melodious, and thus; danced?
    Are secrets melodious?
    Does the grass care about secrets?
    I don't really-- it doesn't mean anything. It's just nonsense that elicits pretty emotions.

    I would not want to read an entire book composed of these types of sentences. I wouldn't even want to read the one paragraph that included these types of sentences even were the rest different.

    Why?

    Because it's nonsense, to me. Perhaps there is some hidden meaning that YOU understand, but to me, it just sounds silly. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't give me real information.

    If you could write like this, but make the sentences more significant in the information which they carry, then this could be very interesting because it DOES inspire emotion. A very nice one.
    I, myself, have pondered the same questions as you.
    How can I make my writing descriptive, complex, but ENTERTAINING and engaging?
    I want you to smell the scent of the leaves, and feel the cool moisture of the dewdrop as it falls onto your head and soaks immediately through your hair with a tingly coldness.

    But I don't want to write in cryptic poetry.
     
  10. Arrow
    Offline

    Arrow Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    0
    I say, keep the style. It needs considerable working to achieve that level of sophistication I can "hear" you going for with your example. It will take time to get it right. Years! I'm sure. Perhaps approaching your sentences as motifs as opposed to each being a symphony might help. Think 4-track not 24-track nor even 8-.

    IMHO...don't K.I.S.S. Not for what you're aiming to achieve. Do keep it readable.
     
  11. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I don't think there is a writing situation for which K.I.S.S. is inadvisable. Making something more elaborate than it needs to be is just plain sloppy writing, in my opinion.
     
  12. Forkfoot
    Offline

    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    San Francisco bay area
    It's like building a cake. There's a point where if you subtract any frosting, it will no longer taste like a cake (failing to give the taster what the builder originally intended), and if you add any more, it'll be too goddamn sweet and people will stop eating after the first bite.
     
  13. Arrow
    Offline

    Arrow Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    0
    KISS but...

    Playing devil's advocate I offer this. Say that you've created a character who at the very core is full of convoluted language and/or is given to malapropisms, then it would be advisable to not K.I.S.S. Or say that a character--a spy or government agent or The Fool--were trying to pull the wool over someone's eyes, then having that character speak in twisting language, double talk, or complex nonsense seems appropriate to me. No need to keep-it-simple there.

    Yes, we wish to be concise when writing generally. At the same time, we mustn't be afraid to lend ourselves to a moment of poesy; a bit of wit even.

    Finally, can we kill the offense of that final "S" in K.I.S.S? It's like the kiss of doom. We are none of us stupid, at least not purposefully so.
     
  14. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    which is why in my version, it stands for 'sugar' or 'sweetums' or similar such endearments, instead of a slur...
     
  15. Arrow
    Offline

    Arrow Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    0
    I like that. That works for me Maia.
     
  16. Gone Wishing
    Offline

    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    1,045
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Australia
    Maybe think about it this way... A great many songs are infinitely more powerful when sung a capella. A skilled singer can mesmerise thousands with a lone, purposeful voice.

    You don't need a full orchestra in order to make a piece flow or convey beauty. If you keep it to what you do need, I can almost guarantee readers will cotton on to what you're trying to achieve that much faster, which will make your writing immediately resonant and that much more powerful.

    Well, that's what I think, anyway. ;)
     

Share This Page