1. Nicolle Evans

    Nicolle Evans Member

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    Great plot, bad writing?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Nicolle Evans, Oct 22, 2016.

    Have you ever read a book/started reading a book where the plot is fantastic but the writing is so bad that you just don't want to read any more?

    Examples?
     
  2. froboy69

    froboy69 Member

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    My story suffers from that as I was frequently told that my grammar was bad and needed to be fixed. I tried to re-write it many times and even hired a good editor but I came the realization that while my grammar was not bad, the turn of phrase is not usual, BUT this is what made my "voice" unique. It is YOU as a writer. Yes, It could easily have been rewritten it all to smooth the flow to more 'regular' looking prose, but then I would've lost my voice and tone and authenticity in the prose.

    My editor told me this after she fixed it up and decided to keep it by my tone. While for a young adult audience, I realized that it was not going to be appealing to all readers. Most of my test readers were adults and I still use them as by a reviewers group in goodreads.com.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Happens a lot, especially when I wander into the land of self-published books. I haven't kept track of titles, though... I generally discard after a page or two, so there's nothing memorable.
     
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  4. thedrunkenwarrior

    thedrunkenwarrior New Member

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    Does a great plot, good beginning, great middle, but bland ending count? Because.. I was reading this book called The Ghost Bride, and it started out pretty good, the middle gets fantastic, and then the end was just so..... bleh. Not horrible writing, just no bang. Like the author couldn't come up with a good ending.
     
  5. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    I don't think I have ever come across a story where I found the plot great and the writing bad. Vice versa I have come across stories where I didn't find the plot particularly engaging but the writing phenomenal. Usually a lack of connection with the plot bothers me more than poor writing, but it's all a matter of what speaks to different people :)
     
  6. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't know, I just put books down if the writing is bad. Sounds snobbish, but I just can't force myself to wade through poor writing in my off time.
     
  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Yep - or rather the premise was great, but the writing was so bad I didn't get far enough to see it executed. Like Bay, that sums up my brief foray into the land of self-publishing.
     
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  8. froboy69

    froboy69 Member

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    But you know, I don't regret going forward with my shitty writing... :meh:
     
  9. taariya

    taariya Member

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    For me Charles Dickens' novels takes the cake for this. He was getting paid by the word (I believe) so it makes sense that he always found the most pointlessly complicated way to express an idea. I think a good portion of the examples of purple prose I found when I was just starting out writing and needed help improving my style came from Charles Dickens' novels.
     
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  10. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    :D

    The Victorians in general loved to use 20 words when two would do. I'm not a Dickens fan but I do find convoluted Victorian writing quite charming - Wilkie Collins (Woman in White is over 24 hours on audiobook!), Mary Shelley, etc.
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think there are any famous, best-selling books out there where the grammar is bad—unless the bad grammar says something about the character who is narrating it and is used intentionally by the author.

    Unfortunately, as much as some folks would like to believe otherwise, bad grammar puts people off reading. I don't mean you can't forgive the occasional mistake ...like maybe four per novel. But when it's four per page? No.

    How long would you pay to listen to music if the person playing it kept hitting all the wrong notes? And would you say later,"Hey that was a great piece of music, except for all the bad notes?" If a person was learning, you'd be forgiving. But not if you splashed out money to hear them. Or read them.
     
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  12. taariya

    taariya Member

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    For some reason The Woman in White was charming to me as well even though one could argue it is quite convoluted and needlessly long. It's because everything that Collins has to say is interesting to read even when it doesn't seem to serve much purpose overall.
     
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  13. Raven484

    Raven484 Contributor Contributor

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    For me it would be Angela White. She writes a post-nuclear war series that is in its ninth book right now. She is self published, so her first book was rough at times. But the more you read, the more she draws you in. After the first book, she was able to hire an editor for the rest. Each book her writing gets better and better. I believe she has gone back to book one and re-edited it, so if you try it out, it shouldn't be all that bad now.
    I really like her storytelling. Be warned, each book is at least 600 pages or more. They are a fast read though, she keeps a very fast pace going through the story.
     
  14. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    George RR Martin's A Game of Thrones. Which I'd ironically thought would be the other way around until I finished it.
     
  15. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    Brian S. Pratt

    One of his series, The Morcyth Saga, is amateur prose at best, but the story was so compelling to me (mostly wish fulfillment) that I read all 7 books...
     
  16. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Is purple prose really such a crime?

    I can appreciate both Ernest Hemingway and Shakespeare or Tolkien. The length of the sentence, or however many words they take to do something, doesn't automatically put me off from reading something. As long as each word counts, and it's interesting and engaging, I couldn't care less if they took six words to do it or sixteen.

    A lot of times on writing forums such as this people are drawn and quartered for using *one* extra word. I completely understand if we're talking about a competition with a word-limit involved, but a lot of times we're not. So I guess I'm just hoping somebody can explain this phenomenon to me, because sometimes when you're criticizing somebody for using two more words than they should've, you unintentionally come across more like a pretentious asshole rather than helpful.
     
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  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don't see Tolkien or Shakespeare as using purple prose.
     
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  18. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Perhaps a more productive question (which ironically would've chopped down the word count in my initial response), would be, "What qualifies as purple prose?"

    I mean, when I Google it I get a response of 'too elaborate or ornate', but who decides where that barrier stands? Seems more like a matter of opinion than an objective rule.

    My point then: if it is a matter of opinion, I'm confused why people argue from a point of authority on it. That is to say, some-piece-of-writing is somehow bad because the descriptions were too wordy. Seems like the "imo" gets forgotten a lot, which means [hopefully] accidentally telling somebody how to write as opposed to helpfully suggesting a different approach, and perhaps including why their current approach is falling short.

    ---

    Sorry for getting so off track here, but I think it's an important point to include "why" something makes for bad writing, which is why I'm inquiring. Rules without reasons are guidelines at best.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm going to try hard to remember to opinionate on this later. It's too long a subject to address by typing on a phone. :)
     
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  20. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Thank-you! It's been something I've been honestly wondering about for a while.

    If I might offer my opinion, purple prose is an easy term to describe a piece that uses words without making them count. So describing something for paragraphs on end, and that 'thing' has literally no purpose. It doesn't further the plot, tell us something about a character, plays no role in the scene. Another thing I would consider purple prose would be redundant descriptions. There are exceptions to these too, I'm sure (sometimes redundancy is just poorly executed emphasis). An example could also be when the "purple prose" conflicts with the tempo or pace of the narrative. Concerning style, for a fight scene you might want to consider dropping the long drawn out sentences and descriptions if things are supposed to be happening brutally in a flash.

    To contribute to the OPs discussion, I had to stop reading Owen Meany. John Irving's writing isn't bad. I just didn't like it. Quality plot though; only reason I know that is we had to read it - or "Sparknote it" and "Wingapedia the tests" in my case - for an AP english course.

    The movie loosely based on it, Simon Birch, was good though in my opinion. So yeah, I think it was something to do with his writing. Not for everybody I guess.

    Then again, another book we were *supposed* to read was Wuthering Heights. Used my "resources" for that assignment too, and not just because it was equally boring, but because once you make something school-related and hand-out homework I stop caring. I'd be a liar if I told you they weren't good novels. Just my opinion. They had good plots, and I still learned something valuable from them and the AP class, but hated how they were written.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  21. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Micheal Asher - The flaming sword. his first book in this series (last commando) was okay but in this one he gets totally carried away with the number of different words he uses to describe gunfire and explosions. "grenades gunnderflapped, and bullets shewhizzed" that kind of thing, which really detracts from what should have been an okay plot
     
  22. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    Mainly I go from forum, over to Amazon, read our writers under lamp:

    I hit the first 'was,' a 'just' or even a 'had.'

    'Ha!'

    I click-close the page in a great joy, relief, a confirmation really, maintaining my disdain for the course of this lifetime. Beware though, sometimes though, the words do run smoothly. The situation that is equally intolerable:

    'She, she, sheeeeh,' I seethe, and bite lumps of pillow, reach for Gaviscon. Irresolvable, s'pose.
     
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  23. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    I think it's largely a matter of style and also evolution of standards. Word economy has its advantages in a society saturated with ideas. If you were meant to be the next Nabokov, I'd like to think there would be a place for you at any time period, but most would be writers should be expected to at least be aware of their time period's standards.
     
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  24. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    No. I can't finish books with bad writing. I've seen a lot of movies that have an amazing premise, but terrible writing.
     
  25. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    I can totally understand why bad grammar, or bad writing (though that's subjective, of course), could be off-putting for some. But actually regarding your comparison with musicians, I don't mind singers hitting a false note if they feel what they are singing. I'll rather listen to people who mean what they are singing than really good singing. So I guess different things just touches different people. Which is great in my opinion! :)
     
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