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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Too many words???

I ran into a nice woman the other day who had written a very small book on how to eliminate words from your writing. She was 'presenting' at a meet-up writing group. I thought to myself, why would I want to do that? Granted I have not read her book nor seen her presentation but I've already witnessed this trend. And it reminds me of so many other things going on in this culture that I disagree with!

It seems to go along with the three-second-attention-span mentality that's taking over. Instagram, twitter etc...are examples of this. I agree that older prose is more wordy than necessary but  I do think there's a middle ground. I happen to love words and because of that have not given in to the 'throw all adverbs out' club. I also use adjectives. When I'm looking for a  book to read I don't go for the skinny ones. I figure if I'm going to spend that much I want more words for my buck!

Will we eventually get all our communication down to one clipped sentence? Maybe we'll just go back to grunting. When I read a book I like to be taken into another world, a place that I can see, smell and almost taste, people who are multi-faceted and sometimes verbose. And when I write I try to bring the reader into what I see. How can I talk about a field full of lavender, moving gracefully in a light breeze, the smell permeating my nostrils and almost making me dizzy with its heady sweetness without using extra words? Maybe this pared down writing appeals to the non-visual readers. Perhaps for them it's the action that they're interested in, not the setting.

I find myself in a narrowing group as I struggle to connect with my tribe. Take the recent discontinuation of Longmire by A&E. Despite millions of watchers, the producers decided that they wanted to appeal to a younger demographic. It's as though anyone over fifty no longer counts in this society. According to them older people are more stuck in their ways and don't necessarily buy the products being advertised. (I want to say something rude here but I'll hold it in.) I've also noticed that nearly every show/series I've liked has been taken off just when they were getting into the true meat of it. It seems that people prefer Duck Dynasty to Defying Gravity or Touch with Keifer Sutherland, or Camelot with Joseph Fiennes as Merlin. Fabulous series. I've gotten a bit off topic here but I think the underlying message is the same.

Do you like words? And who out there enjoys a really thick book to read?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Thanks for reading.


  1. Perhaps one reason so few comment is the fact that if you push 'Preview' your comment is lost. Mine was (the first time). What I said, is that I like to turn a descriptive phrase or three for my readers. And yes, I'm older and subscribe to more traditional prose. But I have seen more dazzling sunsets, and moons rising over the mountains and more starry skies away from the pollution of civilization. I feel compelled to share these images with those whose eyes and sensibilities are solely illuminated by glowing keyboards and glass panels. While some feel the need to let the planet know they liked their most recent Cheerios breakfast, or that their girlfriend has a wart on her middle toe, I would prefer to expose the villains and heroes among us. My books (at least the ones published so far) describe the tapestry of Truth, lies, fantasies and fables that tells the story of our lives.

    1. thanks, William--I share your sensibilities...I'll look into the preview issue...

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  3. As the Greeks said, everything in moderation. Bad writers can be verbose - and you'd avoid these people in real life if they were propping up a bar pontificating. Useless or 'flabby' words can dilute an image. In this case 'less is more'. On the other hand you have also to take into account the 'music' or rhythm of a sentence, where, strictly speaking you might say a word is superfluous, but to remove it makes the sentence flat and devoid of tone. There. My penny's worth :)