1. yellowm&M
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    yellowm&M Contributing Member Contributor

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    Too long, flowery, or detailed?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by yellowm&M, Oct 12, 2008.

    I tend to write in a style with a lot of description, because of that my stories/papers tend to be long. However i recently had to write an english paper with a word limit that i went way over and i was having my mom help me cut it down. SHe said that it was too descriptive and flowery in some places and i was wondering how can i tell if my writing is too flowery or detailed espcially when that is sort of my style? Or is it just fine and its the readers opinion and preferance that says the writing is too much?:confused:
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is there any chance you could give us a paragraph or so of the English paper you wrote? We might be more helpful if we see an example of what you think might be too flowery or detailed.
     
  3. Iris Reola
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    Iris Reola Member

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    Without the paper at hand, I cannot give you actual suggestions on what needs to be cut from your writing. However, I can give you some vague advice.

    When you read your paper, pay careful attention to your sentences. If the details are not necessary for a clear understanding of the subject, get rid of those details. You also need to wonder if there is a shorter way to say what you've already said. When you have a limited amount of words, remember to be concise and precise!
     
  4. Sato Ayako
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    Sato Ayako Contributing Member

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    Like the others have said, without a look at the paper itself, we can't give you specific advice. But I jumped to give you general advice because I have issues with overworked prose as well. My "free" style--the one I use when I'm not worried about tightness, preciseness, etc.--is flowery. It often borders on purple.

    So how do you tell when your writing is too flowery? For one, you have adjectives. Lots and lots and lots of adjectives. You might have a lot of adverbs, as well as weasel words (ex: "almost", "sometimes", "somehow", etc.). Where sentences could be written tightly, you have them loose. Look for phrases such as "[blah] of [blah]", sentences that begin with the word "there", and sentences with adjectives, adverbs, or weasel words heaped in them.

    Just because it's "your style", doesn't mean it's a particularly good style (good being mostly subjective here). However, again, without looking at your work, it's too difficult to tell if you're overboard, or maybe just have a style that pushes the limit, but is overall okay. In general, ask yourself: "Do the readers HAVE to have this detail(s)? Do I need these words exactly, or will something much more simple be just as elegant?"
     
  5. Scarlett_156
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    Scarlett_156 Active Member

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    I can relate to what you are saying, even without seeing an example of your work (although it would indeed be good to see the example).

    You are, like me and so many others, in love with writing. In my case, my wordiness is simply another facet of my huge, huge, overblown ego. (Notice how I say "huge, huge, overblown"...?) In so-called "real life" I usually won't shut up until someone tells me to.

    In school, whenever the teacher told the class to "fill up a page" or "write at least three paragraphs" I was the one who would turn in ten pages of closely-spaced writing, usually with stuff written in the margins as well. And my endings sucked, because I would start to think, "Ok, it's 2 a.m. and there's no end in sight to this, and I have to turn it in tomorrow..." so I would just tack on one of those vague pseudo-stopping-points that editors and critics hate and turn the work in. The fact that I would usually get an A++ on the assignment (because most of my classmates were always hard-pressed to come up with even a correctly-spelled paragraph with decent grammar) definitely did not help. (By the time I got to eighth grade, I WAS getting feedback from teachers to the effect that I needed to "work on my endings".)

    Even now, when I should totally know better, once I get started on a story I literally (haha!) can't stop. My world and characters that I think up acquire an objective existence and become real to me. There are usually one or two that I become infatuated with, and even when I simply can't write or type another word, I will fantasize about them. My stories become endless. Writing a good cohesive short story is something that up until the last couple of years I was completely unable to do.

    Yes, I know: It's sick.

    It's like a disease or something--but it can be cured!

    Learning to edit your own work is a valuable skill that even you, as a kid in school, can learn. And really--the sooner you learn it, the better. As you grow older, people will start to shun you. (Don't ask me how I know that.)

    Here's my advice--which you can of course totally disregard if you choose, of course--based on my struggle of many years to set limits on myself and especially control my writing habit:

    Stop thinking about the writing. The problem you have, assuming you're describing it correctly, is bound to be based on a larger problem, which more than likely has something to do with the way you perceive the world and especially as this regards things you do for enjoyment.

    There's a two-fold habit that you have to acquire: Listening and observing, WITHOUT interaction.

    Being a good listener is of course a valuable skill to have. When you hear people talking or even when you're just listening to your favorite music, try to cut off the stream of chatter in your own mind that's telling you what to think about what you're hearing, and simply listen. Don't let your mind boss you around in this regard: Just listen. When a family member or friend talks to you, pay attention and simply listen. Wait until that person is done speaking before you reply. Think about what that person is saying; turn it over in your mind before you give input.

    The same goes for observation. The less you assume about what's going on in your immediate enironment, and the more you observe things that are taking place around you, the better your writing will get. Even something you see many times a day, something you've looked at so many times that you scarcely even see it anymore, will surprise you if you try to observe that thing with new eyes.

    Say that when you are being driven somewhere, or riding the bus, you always pass a certain park. You've passed it so many times that you don't even look at it anymore. But here's an opportunity to observe! The next time you pass this area, really LOOK at it, and try simply to look and not think. Are the trees changing colors? Is there trash lying on the ground? Do you see people? What are the people doing?

    When you read your favorite writers, try to think of how this writer or that would describe a particular scene or event that you've observed. They're your favorite authors for a reason, right?

    You may think that these two faculties--listening and observing--have little to do with your writing problem, but I'm guessing that if you give the above a try, good things will start to happen. Your descriptions will become more concise, and will be more well-integrated into your writing so that they don't stick out so much.

    I hope this was helpful! yours in Chaos, Scarlett
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    are you writing for yourself, or for your readers?

    if the former, you don't have to pay any attention to what anyone else thinks about your writing...

    if the latter, you do... and if the consensus is that it's too flowery, then it would behoove you to make it less so...

    the usual cause is reading less than the best quality writing, so that florid stuff gets absorbed into your brain as the way writing 'should' look/read, which isn't how 'good' writing should...

    to cure it, all you need do is start to read the works of the best writers and toss all that other stuff... constant reading of the good stuff will show results before long and your own writing will become less purple 'naturally'...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  7. Crimson Threnody
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    Crimson Threnody Senior Member

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    I think this may be a good place to give advice. This is something I struggle with, as I love details and wonderful descriptions, but not everyone sees the world through my eyes (unfortunately). Over the years, I have had to learn to curve my tendancy towards details for specific places. It isn't always necessary to always describe a character in depth every time they appear in your story. Gradually giving their description and leaving a bit to the imagination of the reader is really a good thing.

    Even though you are the author, readers really enjoy being able to find a way to make the story theirs as well. Leaving a bit to the imagination will do that for you.
     
  8. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    As general rule, if I have more than certain amount of adjectives or any adverbs then I know I’m letting embroidery get the best of my work.

    I know it’s a little cut and dry to give yourself a certain amount of anything, but sometimes its beneficial to add a little objectiveness to an otherwise subjective activity.
     

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