Style over Story - Page 5


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Thread: Style over Story

  1. #41
    I also write description similar to what I like to read, which is quite a bit more detailed than your average modern novel. I actually pare it down from what I would like, because I recognize I'm a bit of an outlier in this equation. I love stupidly detailed descriptions, like Exodus-26-level stuff. So I write slightly less detailed than what I would enjoy, because what I would enjoy is a bit much, objectively.
    In my mouth, if there be sweetness,
    It has come from my Creator;
    If my hands are filled with beauty,
    All the beauty comes from God.
    ~ from The Kalevala (paraphrased)

    Whom have I in heaven but You?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.

    ~ Psalm 73:25

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.






  2. #42
    Character. Always character. Sometimes a character has a particular style. Sometimes the narrator can be part of the story and have a style.
    Sometimes a genre has a particular style.

    I miss Terry Pratchett.
    Good luck
    BC
    Quote Originally Posted by Tettsuo View Post
    I can't think of any books where the style of the book was more important than the story. Maybe it's because tend to read genre fiction instead of literary?

    Anyway, when I was in an offline writing group, I noticed that a peculiar trend. The writers tended to favor "fancy" prose, even with the story made little to no sense. So, after they'd lavish the writers with praise, I'd sometimes find myself feeling like an a**hole when I'd address the weak storyline.

    My point, is this something that writers prefer discussing when critiquing a piece? Is the style more important than the story contents? In my head, I see the story as FAR more important that a few ill-placed words.

  3. #43
    genre fiction depends less on description
    I don't think this is true. Genre fiction is full of description. Some genres more than others. I mean, have you read space opera with battle scenes? Full of description.

    The thing about going for style over story is that you can lose some readers while gaining others. If that's okay with the writer, if they see their vision with a certain style of writing, then that's fine. We should always tell the story the way that's best for the story.

    A good piece of advice I've seen is for the writer to get out of the way of the story. Don't complicate it with fancy words, or a forced style of writing. Most people read about a seventh grade level, so all that fancy stuff makes it hard for them to enjoy the story.

  4. #44
    Member Twisted Head's Avatar
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    It's your story and your style.
    Write the story and let all the MFA people argue about your prose while you're cranking out stories.

    ~T.H.
    "If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you."

  5. #45
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    I think style and story each have their place and should certainly work together, although admittedly, sometimes i feel that a simple story can be made something rather impressive in certain context by style. Mystery and horror for example. I'm not saying that the story is by any means unimportant, but something mundane can be made beautiful and complex if done with the right style.
    Don't get my wrong, nonsensical and nonexistent stories would have to do some truly miraculous work to make them worthwhile for me, but I do understand how it can take precedence for some.

  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by apocalypsegal View Post
    Most people read about a seventh grade level, so all that fancy stuff makes it hard for them to enjoy the story.
    Sort of reminds me of Blazing Saddles:

    "You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the New West. You know...morons."

  7. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by apocalypsegal View Post
    I don't think this is true. Genre fiction is full of description. Some genres more than others. I mean, have you read space opera with battle scenes? Full of description.

    The thing about going for style over story is that you can lose some readers while gaining others. If that's okay with the writer, if they see their vision with a certain style of writing, then that's fine. We should always tell the story the way that's best for the story.

    A good piece of advice I've seen is for the writer to get out of the way of the story. Don't complicate it with fancy words, or a forced style of writing. Most people read about a seventh grade level, so all that fancy stuff makes it hard for them to enjoy the story.
    I was told the same thing by a college professor, but my take on this notion is that television has made people lazy. Don't get me wrong, I watch TV too, but I also read at least 2 hours a day (and write for about 7 hours). It may be surprising to some here (as it is to me) that a lot of people just don't read books. This concept is shocking to me... it's like saying they don't eat or drink or breathe, but there it is. Without reading, vocabulary plummets.

  8. #48
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    That’s a great point about ‘7th grade’. I can’t remember school grades of America, but I’m thinking that’s about nine?

    Writing at that level is a different [same] craft. Whereas reading a clunky 1000 words of prose, lacking imagination, lacking vigour, written by a thirty-nine year old with the vocabulary of a nine year old is quite difficult. That’s why creative writing teachers get paid.

    Saying that - prose of a highly educated individual can be awful. The great leveller.

    Even those short stories from acclaimed celeb authors in the New Yorker & such can set teeth on edge. There really is no solution.

  9. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by indianroads View Post
    Without reading, vocabulary plummets.
    A deeper subject than this simple sentence indicates. I've read adult level books since I was in grade school, as has my wife. She's degreed in English and holds a Masters. Want vocabulary? We gots vocabulary.

    There are numerous words I've read over the decades that no one uses in conversation, and the same for her. I use those words when I write. Over the last year we've begun a new habit. I read a chapter or the latest scene to her aloud. And from time to time I come across one of those words I've never heard spoken--and as it turns out--neither has she. We're both quite familiar with the word, know what it means, but only from a page through our eyes. When it happens, I occasionally have to pause a moment when I realize I've never voiced that word and I have to work out how to say it. LOL I've only ever pronounced it in my head as I read. We'll discuss it and agree neither of us has ever heard the word spoken.

    Take "genre". It's not really in that category anymore, but it was a popular written word before it gained a life in conversation. I believe I've heard Alex Trebek pronounce it no fewer than five different ways when it first started to come up in Jeopardy clues. He finally settled on one and stuck to it. I was an early vocal adopter and had my own struggles with it. The dictionary gives "ZHnrə", but most often, I hear "jon-RAH". I don't think I've ever heard it pronounced with the ZH. I think it likely the word itself is simply a cruel joke. Long dead, the progenitors of the word are still laughing at us.

  10. #50
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    I adapt French dialect of my wife's Norman ancestors - 'Jean,' I say, with the growl in second syllable, my re, like a woof. Think croissant for adults, and cigarettes.

    ...

    that's probably 8th grade, disqualification.

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