1. Warp Zone
    Offline

    Warp Zone Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2012
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    World 1-2

    Thoughts on wordiness

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Warp Zone, Aug 13, 2012.

    I've noticed quite a few compliments given in the Workshop are on how the story posted is and easy and streamlined read, while still managing to put detail in; from this, I believe that excessive wordiness and description are generally frowned upon here.

    But, some of my favorite short story authors write wordy stories that can be difficult to read. For example: Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher" and Melville's novella, Billy Budd, Sailor. Naturally, I take after these styles.

    If I were to post a short story with the same kind of heavy description as these two authors, would I always be met with criticism? Is this style outdated and too much of a pain to read, and therefore shouldn't be used? I myself love the challenge of reading wordy stories, but I don't know how much everyone else does...
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    These are not contemporary writing, and woiuld be unlikely to pass muster with contemporary publishers.

    Stephen King can get away with verbal diarrhea, because any book with his name on it will turn a profit, no matter how horribly written (such as Under the Dome). New writers trying to sell writing like that as their first novel would be pretty much doomed to failure.
     
  3. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    Excessive wordiness now, especially in the instant gratification world we live in, won't cut the mustard. One thing new writers do, and I still do sometimes to be honest, is to fall in love with their own words, which hurts the chances of their stories or novels ever seeing the shelf of a Barnes and Noble or other bookstore. There are places for their to be wordiness and places for streamlining. However, it's up to each individual author to be able to "feel" when with the pace of their stories. My action scenes tend to have longer paragraphs and sentences sometimes, but there's lot's of description and action taking place, it might not work for you for example.

    We all have our own style and writing voice, but there's always the need to streamline your writing and try to get things accomplished, generally, in as few words as necessary. Without seeing a piece of your work, though, I couldn't really tell you how it is,.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
     
  5. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    In today's high speed world I don't think readers are keen to go to the trouble of reading wordy writing.
     
  6. Nickleby
    Offline

    Nickleby New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, people have short attention spans. Also we've learned to communicate what's important and leave out what isn't.
     
  7. Warp Zone
    Offline

    Warp Zone Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2012
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    World 1-2
    Thanks for the responses, everyone. I find it unfortunate that this style is no longer acceptable by any means, but I'm sure I can do without :D
     
  8. Nickleby
    Offline

    Nickleby New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    I wouldn't give up. If there are still people who want to write that way, you can bet there are people willing to read that way.
     
  9. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i can only ditto all above except nickleby...

    sure, there may be people willing to read it that way, but there won't be enough of them to make it economically feasible for a publisher to publish it...
     
  10. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    The best advice I can give you is to not worry who will say what. You should do what you feel is right for you, and every feedback you receive you should take as one person's opinion.
    As with all advice, decide what part you will take, what you'll ignore.

    I love Poe too, but wordiness is a funny thing. If you can make all your descriptions relevant, and if you write it well enough, then it should be very readable.
    What springs to mind for me is Borghes. Whilst Poe manages to make his descriptions very readable, Borghes is more abstract, therefore confusing and much harder to read (in English).
    Also Dostoyevsky. Having tried to read an old translation of it, I could not bear it. New translation comes along and all of a sudden, Dostoyevsky is not only readable but a page turner closely resembling the one I read in the original, many years ago.

    So yeah, I think that good writing can make any style readable.
     
  11. marktx
    Offline

    marktx Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    202
    Likes Received:
    8
    I tend to favor an economical, spare style. However, there are authors who create great and very readable work with lush, expansive prose.

    It's important to note that an expansive style is not the same as wordiness. The reader may feel that the prose is simply flowing from the page in torrents, and the reading experience with this type of prose may be akin to being carried along in a raft on the white-water word-rapids, but don't mistake effect for craft. It's still crafted. That rushing feeling you experience is usually a well-designed illusion.

    It can work. But it's no easier to do it well than a spare style, and even through Ernest Hemingway fell squarely in the "spare" camp, his answer to the following question still holds true regardless of style:

    When asked what he found to be the hardest part about writing, Hemingway answered:

    "Getting the words right."

    One other note: If you are doing historical/period stuff, you might have more leeway. Check out Caleb Carr's work for examples of great novels with an intentionally turn-of-the-century feel. (19th-20th centuries, not the most recent turn of the century).
     

Share This Page