1. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    Less is more?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by FirstTimeNovelist91, Jul 13, 2012.

    In terms of description, do you prescribe to the belief that less is more? I find that as I go along editing, the sentences sound better when they are lean.
     
  2. SaybleNox
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    SaybleNox Member

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    It depends. If you give no detail at all it may come out too sparse. We're supposed to paint a picture with our words. I always think of stephen king. I love how he portrays visuals in his writintg, his metaphors are the best I've ever seen. Other times though he does back of but does it in a way your mind easily fills in the blanks, or he just suggests something and you think he describe dit but he really didnt.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Depends on the sentense ( I was going to put really , depends - but I edited it.)
    Also depends on your work itself. I love lyrical descriptions but in an mystery/thriller - what's the point?

    I restruct to eliminate useless things but not necessarily to omit lengthy descriptions. My aim is to
    be concise or more important to be clear.
    If a man is hanging from a cliff he doesn't call out -
    "I could use some assistance because my fingers are starting to slip."
    He shouts "Help!"
    But him clinging to the cliff could be descriped, much as how he feels - long , drawn out with
    every second feeling like a year.
     
  4. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Yes, often less is more is good advice, but like Sayble said, it only works when the readers can fill in the blanks. So, the key is to give just enough for the readers' imaginations to take over.
     
  5. DomTheDoxx
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    DomTheDoxx Member

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    The more compact you can make your work, the better. Ever been reading a paragraph that seems to go on and on without really saying anything important and you end up skipping it or just putting the book down for a while? That is a prime example of 'too much'
    I've noticed that after revising my initial drafts, my sentences and paragraphs get shorter and simpler, i even switch the intricate words to less complicated ones, as long as it doesn't take away from the effect that i was trying to give.
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    With description, you need to get it just right. Many new writers go for the "descriptive diarrhoea" approach, where they describe every last part of the scene, cast and action in excessive detail, mistaking their verbosity for professionalism when in actual fact they're just boring the reader. Similarly, being overly-minimalistic can leave a reader marooned and lost.

    Knowing where to draw the line is where close critical reading comes in. Look, in detail, how writers at the top of their craft do it. What do they describe? What don't they? It will differ from genre to genre (as others have already mentioned), and to a degree will depend on the individual's style. Myself, I have a somewhat clipped style, which I trace back to when I started seriously writing, and drastically pared down my tendency towards purple prose. The way I always look at it, however, is that your job as a writer is to build a scaffold of the story and the setting, the bare essential bones which the reader can then fill with their own imagination.
     
  7. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I prefer lean writing. I will reach for a strong adjective before going with the flaccid paragraph. There are occasions when I will go into detail in a description, but those parts don't often seem to survive editing. Nothing wrong with it, it helps me build my mental world so that when I do choose the strong adjectives, they are most fitting.
     
  8. JoePetchonka
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    JoePetchonka New Member

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    I prefer to keep my descriptions short and to the point. When I was writing my first novel, I made the mistake of being way too descriptive. It got to the point where I was dedicating a full page to the description of a location. After going through it and realizing that it was incredibly rich in detail but quite boring, I chopped at least half of the words out.

    Chances are if your readers are reading a book, their imaginations can fill in the rest of the blanks with their own details.

    Knowing that a a flashlight has short ridges and spirals and also weighs two pounds is not necessary!
     

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