1. serowden
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    serowden Member

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    Straight forward or more complex presentation of narrative novels?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by serowden, Sep 22, 2012.

    Do most modern demographics of readers prefer novels that present a story in a straight forward manner, with sentences that don't stretch the rules, do not become overly complex, and do not elaborate with poetic diction, common use of literary devices, and otherwise leave a lot of room for studying in classrooms, rereading passages because they're that beautiful, and so forth...

    Or do they prefer sentences that don't splice ideas between dashes, commas, colons, and semicolons in sentences that bend the rules a bit for the sake of art, and find beauty in the story itself (and not as much in the particular words that tell them), because understanding the story is easier when an author isn't trying to be a poet, and the reader wants a story that gets to the point. Would the reader prefer that the word blue be used over words like azure in almost any situation, since describing things as azure is uncommon and awkward outside of poetry. Does the reader hate rereading passages to better comprehend what was written?

    How do you feel?
     
  2. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Each reader prefers something different, and that's why some authors sell a lot to certain segments, but not others. But I subscribe to the King philosophy, which is to use the first word that comes to mind (even if a curse) because it tends to be the right one. I also, though, believe to the KISS philosophy. Why over complicate something that can be done more straight forwards and easier?

    The more complex you make things, the better chance there is for a major gaffe.
     
  3. shaunplus
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    shaunplus Member

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    I think complexity can be great if it has a valid point.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think it depends on the story and audience - and if you're going genre they've already got built in expectations and 'rules'.
    I myself like a bit of a mix but I'm more interested in make the idea complex and keeping the sentences simple.
     
  5. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    The thing about complexity, no matter what it is in, the greater the chance for a major failure or other issues to arise. Super complex plots (ones that carry multiple sub-plots on top of the main one) can lead to problem are gaffe.

    Take complex ideas and distill them down to the what's easiest, and functional, to get the point across.
     
  6. Wolfwig
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    Wolfwig Member

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    Indeed, a writer must know his/her intended audience. Personally, I read more for style (poetic value) than content. There are numerous authors whose stories I do not care for, though I love to read them because the construction and expression are fantastic (e.g., Elizabeth Strout & Umberto Eco). Of course, every now and then something comes along where the two camps are equally represented - the best of both worlds.

    As for demographics, I would guess that I stand in the minority. Most readers - the bulk of the bell curve - don't want to work at reading. Brilliant-but-simple is always a plus, though simple outweighs clever whenever a choice must be made.
     
  7. Program
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    Program Member

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    It depends on what your audience is. If you want to write for the general audience (many times it's for money and/or fame), it'll be better to be straightforward. The last thing you'd want is to have readers dislike your story because they can't follow it.

    On the other hand, if you are going to write for those who actually "read" (many times it's for making the writing beautiful), it'll be better to write more elegantly, which generally results in being less straightforward and more ideas spliced between dashes, commas, colons and semicolons and the bending of the rules.

    Keep in mind that it's not splicing ideas between dashes, commas, colons, and semicolons and bending the rules a bit that makes beautiful writing. Nor is the usage of "big words," such as azure instead of blue that makes beautiful writing. It is its effectiveness in the context in which it is used. For example, in one story I've read, Faulkner used huge words that probably wouldn't even be put on the S.A.T when telling the story from the perspective of an uneducated teenager. What made that elegant was the fact that he had chosen that specific character as the person through which he would describe the different places. And the fact that he was using those big words gave an effect that the teenager was not telling the story to the reader - instead, it was more like he was putting the reader in the teenager's memories, giving the reader a full experience. His use was justified because if the teenager were really "narrating," he wouldn't have the vocabulary to describe everything - not because in this situation, his big words happened to be less awkward than common words.
     
  8. marktx
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    marktx Contributing Member

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    Not so much complex in my case, but a mix of straight-forward and occasionally slightly disorienting.

    Most of what I write has a straight-forward surface presentation (My sister told me that my style was "deceptively simple." She's getting a very nice Christmas present from me this year.) But at certain points in my novel I shift gears and force the reader to play catch-up a little bit.

    As to language use, I prefer simple language, but writing effectively in simple language is much harder than it looks.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i prefer clarity, simplicity and elegantly crafted wordsmithery over fancified and pompously pretentious purplish prose...
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i prefer clarity, simplicity and elegantly crafted master wordsmithery over fancified and pompously pretentious purplish prose...
     

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