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Thread: Contrived Writing

  1. #1

    Contrived Writing

    When or how can you say a piece of writing is contrived?


    "Outside, Spring that year revealed its full bloom, spreading the potpourri of scents that sweetened the rolling breeze and perfumed the gusts of whistling wind blowing at sporadic intervals. The white swans, lithe and agile, must have floated on the ponds and gracefully glissaded around the pink water lilies, like light, petite ballerinas in their grand pas de deux. I lived on Tremont Street, a walking distance to the Public Garden. When I had nothing to do and had time to spare, I would spend my lazy afternoons rambling around the botanical park and would only stop when I found an umbrageous tree. I would sit on its peeking root and lean my back on its trunk or lie down under its shade until the dusky gray of five o’clock suffused the landscape. Inside the apartment, as calm and idle as the winter-ravaged tree solitary and leafless by the main entrance of the Boston Common, my body remained on the floor almost lifeless if not of my faint sighs and slow breathing."


    Is it contrived? Thank you very much.
    Last edited by miyako73; 11-18-2012 at 09:16 PM.
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  2. #2
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    When or how can you say a piece of writing is contrived?


    "Outside, Spring that year revealed its full bloom, spreading the potpourri of scents that sweetened the rolling breeze and perfumed the tamed gusts of whistling wind blowing at sporadic intervals. The white swans, lithe and agile, must have floated on the ponds and gracefully glissaded around the pink water lilies, like light, petite ballerinas in their grand pas de deux. I lived on Tremont Street, a walking distance to the Public Garden. When I had nothing to do and had time to spare, I would spend my lazy afternoons rambling around the botanical park and would only stop when I found an umbrageous tree. I would sit on its peeking root and lean my back on its trunk or lie down under its shade until the dusky gray of five o’clock suffused the landscape. Inside the apartment, as calm and idle as the winter-ravaged tree solitary and leafless by the main entrance of the Boston Common, my body remained on the floor almost lifeless if not of my faint sighs and slow breaths."


    Is it contrived? Thank you very much.
    I would say the quoted piece is contrived. It's bad writing trying to imitate good writing. The sentences are very busy. There is too much going on in a single sentence. Too many adjectives, too many verbs, and sometimes bizarre verb choices. We talk about spring, then ponds (without any scene or POV setup, so we have no character to orient us), then a first person POV who is recalling his habits appears, but not actively participating in the story yet, then a random jolt into current time in which he is inside his apartment almost lifeless. The paragraph has no real logical structure. One sentence doesn't necessarily lead into the next sentence.
    Last edited by Drkshadow03; 11-18-2012 at 09:34 PM.
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  3. #3
    Dark, that's not a full story. I lifted that in one of the stories I have been writing. "Contrived writing", I think, is about writing style. What I want to know is: when is a style of writing contrived or not contrived? Does using too many adjectives, adverbs, and verbs make it contrived? Does writing in complex or compound sentences make it contrived? Is it the tone or the voice that makes it? Or is it up to the reading of its reader?
    Last edited by miyako73; 11-19-2012 at 03:20 AM.
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  4. #4
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    How do you mean by contrived?
    One writes the way they do I mean. Contrived is beside the point. I think it is down to the writer and his or her feelings about it.
    What is contrived is those who think it is.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

  5. #5
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    The first sentence has a much less natural flow than the others which become more tempered as you progress. Because of this, the first sentence may seem more contrived than if you had remained consistent and yes, perhaps the reader is the judge of whether they like this style of writing or not but as your example highlights a spectrum, it prompts one to leap to the conclusion that perhaps overloaded sentences can result in a forced flow more than anything else.

    I hope this helps
    The Rotten Apple Injures its Neighbour

  6. #6
    Contrived writing is when the reader sees only the writing - or realises the writer is trying too hard to appear to be a writer. If the author's style intrudes on the story then it's contrived - good or bad.

    H

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    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    This reminds me of James Joyce. Is not his writing contrived when he profusely use puzzles and enigmas? When he could say things in simple sentences using easy and comprehensible words. When arrogance grips on the writer he takes to sophistication to endorse his or her vainglory. I think Joyce seems bordering on that

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

  8. #8
    Joyce could not have said what he wanted to say in simple words, because using complete language in all its complexity communicates something that using simple language cant. for that matter, using clear and simple language also communicates something that using complex language cant. there is no escape.

  9. #9
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    That is where skills come in. Skill is demanded of a writer when he has to express complex ideas to make it comprehensible to his readers. If he uses difficult words and complex sentences to bury meaning few can find the book readable, though a few critic from their distant heights keep on commending them

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

  10. #10
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manuscript View Post
    Joyce could not have said what he wanted to say in simple words, because using complete language in all its complexity communicates something that using simple language cant. for that matter, using clear and simple language also communicates something that using complex language cant. there is no escape.
    It is interesting you mention simple language.
    Sometimes the mind is so intricate and wrapped in ways and routine so far gone with the entanglement of the dark and complex, that even the simplest of sentences won't untangle it and make it appreciate simplicity for what it is.
    If the mind is used to complex thinking and reading, Dante and Joyce comes to mind, then simplicity does not stand a chance.
    The human mind is a like a machine when it gets used to something it is very difficult to undo.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by blazeofglory View Post
    That is where skills come in. Skill is demanded of a writer when he has to express complex ideas to make it comprehensible to his readers. If he uses difficult words and complex sentences to bury meaning few can find the book readable, though a few critic from their distant heights keep on commending them
    what if the writer wants to deal with the idea that language is itself a complex system that does not simply get at a separate world of ideas but is actually our only way of constructing ideas? can the writer then still use language in a naive way to get at this world of ideas which is believed to be no longer separate but bound up in language? or should the writer treat language as something complex and difficult and fraught with histories and ideas of its own that have nothing to do with whatever we might attempt to communicate?

    what you are saying is like saying that an ode by John Keats could communicate the same things if it did not rhyme. the fact that it does rhyme communicates meanings that would not be possible if it did not rhyme. what would be the point for Keats of abandoning rhyme simply because it is difficult for other people to understand why he chose to form those particular rhymes? that would be wrong! he should be true to the meanings that he can create with his language! he is giving more meaning to the world. it is sad if some people cannot appreciate the beauty of his odes! but what can he do about that? he is only a writer, he is not in charge of the education of every boy and girl! im sure Keats would love everyone to understand beauty as he understands it. he must just hope that they keep learning and keep reading.

    Quote Originally Posted by cacian View Post
    It is interesting you mention simple language.
    Sometimes the mind is so intricate and wrapped in ways and routine so far gone with the entanglement of the dark and complex, that even the simplest of sentences won't untangle it and make it appreciate simplicity for what it is.
    If the mind is used to complex thinking and reading, Dante and Joyce comes to mind, then simplicity does not stand a chance.
    The human mind is a like a machine when it gets used to something it is very difficult to undo.
    i like those thoughts you wrote and agree with you.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by blazeofglory View Post
    This reminds me of James Joyce. Is not his writing contrived when he profusely use puzzles and enigmas? When he could say things in simple sentences using easy and comprehensible words. When arrogance grips on the writer he takes to sophistication to endorse his or her vainglory. I think Joyce seems bordering on that

    Literature would be pretty boring if everyone were to write the same way. There's a time for simple sentences, there's a time for complex sentences, there's a time for puzzles and a time for simple plot. It's how well you do these things once you've chosen to do them that counts.
    Vladimir: (sententious.) To every man his little cross. (He sighs.) Till he dies. (Afterthought.) And is forgotten.

  13. #13
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    In fact rhyming a poem does not make it always intricate though sometimes it does. Keats is interesting and James is intricate. I do not enjoy James the way I do reading Keats, Wordsworth and Shelley. Even Shakespeare is an easier read than James. James has a complex, a kind of arrogance and sense of vainglory

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by blazeofglory View Post
    In fact rhyming a poem does not make it always intricate though sometimes it does. Keats is interesting and James is intricate. I do not enjoy James the way I do reading Keats, Wordsworth and Shelley. Even Shakespeare is an easier read than James. James has a complex, a kind of arrogance and sense of vainglory
    i read somewhere that in philosophy when it comes to criticising an argument advanced by a philosopher it is a logical fallacy to employ personal statements relating the philosopher, their life or self, as part of the criticism of the argument. this fallacy has a special name - it is called an ad hominem argument, which i think means something like "against the man", that is rather than against the argument.

  15. #15
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    There is no argument against somebody writing intricately for self gratification and if somebody writes for the select few. I am talking about writing in general. I choose to write for the common reader not for the class. James wrote not for the mass but for the few elite class and for the university professors

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

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