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Thread: Word Count

  1. #1
    A FLEECED MONSTROSITY aBIGsheep's Avatar
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    Word Count

    I don't like wordy books. Its either I'm just lazy or I'm maybe just a direct person, but I don't like novels that span 10 pages describing a leaf *coughlordoftheringsuncough*. I'm exaggerating of course, but I'm sure someone else feels the same as me.

    I'm gonna gonna stick with my chum Thoreau and say that short & sweet is the way to be.
    The worst feeling in the world isn't loneliness, it's being forgotten by someone you can't forget.

  2. #2
    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    It's unfortunate that Thoreau says that but is not all that "short and sweet" - some parts are "sweet" - in his own writing.

    I can agree with you that sometimes writers do get carried away with excessive detail (Lord of the Rings most notably) and sometimes - during the age of "get paid by the word" - authors do fill tomes with unnecessary and uninteresting details, but this is not quite so common. My point is that there are large tomes that can be as exciting and as direct as 200 page novels and there are 200 page novels which linger around a single point and hardly seem to move (I am reminded of E.M Forster, but this is just my bias as I do not like his writing).

    Some large words like "Winter's Tale" by Halprin have a great amount of detail but that it was makes the book as good as it was. Others, such as the longest book in the English language "Clarissa" are driven purely by events and characters.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Registered User Equality72521's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=aBIGsheep;612176] I don't like novels that span 10 pages describing a leaf QUOTE]

    HAve you read Lord of the Flies????
    Dear lord, there were like 10 pages just talking about the wind. OH god. I'm good with some discription, but oh my stars, that book drove me crazy.
    Little one, Fate might miscarry.
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    My little one.

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    Registered User book_jones's Avatar
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    Sometimes I like to read shorter, more direct novels, but I do really like lone, descriptive novels as well. I guess it just depends on how it's written. It's more okay if the language is beautiful and well written. If it's just written in a typical fashion than I can certainly see that getting tedious.
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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I don't like wordy books. Its either I'm just lazy or I'm maybe just a direct person, but I don't like novels that span 10 pages describing a leaf *coughlordoftheringsuncough*. I'm exaggerating of course, but I'm sure someone else feels the same as me...

    I'll make no judgment as to your motivation... or lack thereof. What I will say is that this post reminded me of that scene in the movie Amadeus in which the emperor tells Mozart that his latest work has potential, but it simply has too many notes. Just clip a few and it'll be great.

    There's always cliff notes...

    OH god. I'm good with some discription, but oh my stars, that book drove me crazy.

    Accck! The horror! Such verbosity surely knows no limits. I mean it's all of 200 pages long for Gods sake!
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    I agree with you in spirit aBigSheep, but I see no reason for you to bring a rope to your own hanging. Conceding your short comings was a very reasonable and human thing to do, but it gives unscrupulous persons the ammunition they need to undermine your credibility and attack your character; whereas otherwise, they would have to argue the merits of your argument, in their own words as opposed to yours.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
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    Super papayahed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aBIGsheep View Post
    I don't like wordy books. Its either I'm just lazy or I'm maybe just a direct person, but I don't like novels that span 10 pages describing a leaf *coughlordoftheringsuncough*. I'm exaggerating of course, but I'm sure someone else feels the same as me.

    I'm gonna gonna stick with my chum Thoreau and say that short & sweet is the way to be.

    I agree. Just get to the story...

    Sometimes I just skip the descriptions.
    Do, or do not. There is no try. - Yoda


  8. #8
    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    Brevity is the soul of wit. Alas, some authors have not been blessed with as much wit as others. I don't think that length itself is the problem. I think that lack of meaningful content is a problem.

  9. #9
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    In my opinion, the pleasure in reading is contained in the experience of reading itself and not the end... not the "meaning" or getting to the point. If the latter were true, then surely I would be all for the Reader's Digest Condensed Editions or Cliff Notes. If a work is poorly written then surely it will seem to have too many words no matter how long or short it is. There are also good... even great... but flawed works that could certainly benefit from editing. The endless inclusions of Hebrew law made by later redactors to the Bible are but one immediate example. How long or short a work is an essential component to the artist's intentions. A marvelous haiku or sonnet is not too short nor, a lush, descriptive novel too long any more than is Beethoven's 9th Symphony too long nor Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C-Major from the Well Tempered Clavier too short. To admit that one may not have the patience or the time (or even the preference) for longer works of literature is one thing. There are times when I am so tied up with things that all I can focus upon are shorter fictions and poetry. To suggest that length... lush descriptiveness... is an inherent flaw of the writer, however, seems to be a suggestion of another sort.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    I see your point, but this only applies to bad books. Dickens loved long sentences, and lush descriptions, but he was writing in a modern equivalent of a high mimetic mode, where characters and society are more fleshed out because of this, and events more comical, and brutal. Tolkien on the other hand was writing in an artificial high mimetic mode, being that his story is fiction written as fiction (unlike Homer, and mythological texts, which seem to be written as non-fiction in a fictitious account), and his style seemed to fuse with a didactic style, popular amongst 18th century novelists, though dead now, creating a mix of over dramatic situations with flat characters and boring didacticism about his world. To use his analogy, his writing is like "too much butter, spread over too little bread."

    That being said, there is nothing wrong with too much description. Take this description from Nabokov for example:

    "Through the darkness and the tender trees we could see the arabesques of lighted windows which, touched up by the colored inks of sensitive memory, appear to me now like playing cards - presumably because a bridge game was keeping the enemy busy."

    Lolita


    You can see clearly that detail, when handled with skill only adds, whereas detail, when handled with an untalented hand, is like smearing too much paint on a canvas.
    Last edited by JBI; 08-20-2008 at 09:17 PM.

  11. #11
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Of course you meant Dickens. That first sentence threw me there for a second considering how taut... condensed... concentrated Dickinson's writing is. I'm actually reading some extremely condensed... and un-wordy... writing in the form of some translations of Japanese poetry. I like your analogy of a canvas smeared with "too much paint"... but then again, that is all relative to how well it is done. Van Gogh and Soutine slather it on in the most masterful way where hundreds of other lesser artists works just look clotted up.
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    Super papayahed's Avatar
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    No one said descriptive writing is a flaw I believe big and I both said we didn't care for it.
    Do, or do not. There is no try. - Yoda


  13. #13
    Registered User Joreads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papayahed View Post
    No one said descriptive writing is a flaw I believe big and I both said we didn't care for it.
    I don't care much for it either. If you can say something in ten words why use twenty - that is the kind of person that I am and I like my reading like that to. When it is all said and done it comes down to personal preference I guess

  14. #14
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Because, the art of writing isn't in what is said, but how it is said. Anyone can say stuff, it takes an artist to say stuff well.

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    If you can say something in ten words why use twenty -

    But have you really said the same thing with ten words as might be said with twenty... or a hundred and twenty? And as JBI suggests... literature is about the language... how something is said... not merely the "meaning" or what is said.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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