Style over Story


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Thread: Style over Story

  1. #1
    WF Veteran Tettsuo's Avatar
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    Style over Story

    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.
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  2. #2

  3. #3
    Depends on the genre. Also depends on what sort of story it is. Because like you said genre fiction depends less on description. Everyone has a unique style which may lean to more character, plot, or descriptive. I think the person's personality plays a very big part. What has worked for them and what they enjoy. I try to respect the differences in personality in the critique. You have to work with what the person wrote. It may have a unique style in this sense.
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  4. #4
    I think story is far more important. Style should follow and complement story

  5. #5
    Story is all. There are people out there who write a lot of purple prose, but that will never get them anywhere.

  6. #6
    Writing style-focused prose is not the same as writing purple prose. Plenty of writers known for their style are not 'purple' at all.

    There's a market for style, however it's tiny compared to the market for story. There's a reason it's called a STORYbook, right? Style tends to be a fixation of writers (who are also readers!) and a small collection of art farts.

    Your average reader only cares about style to the extent it either (1) Adds to the story or (2) Doesn't detract from the story. Style can add to the story, for sure. In fact, most truly great books do have great style as well and the great style elevates a good story to a great one -- this is broadly the case in literary fiction. Otherwise, the option is a workmanlike style that doesn't detract from the story, that 'carries' the prose competently while focusing on what is actually happening on the mental screen -- as in the case of most genre fiction.

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Writing style-focused prose is not the same as writing purple prose. Plenty of writers known for their style are not 'purple' at all.

    There's a market for style, however it's tiny compared to the market for story. There's a reason it's called a STORYbook, right? Style tends to be a fixation of writers (who are also readers!) and a small collection of art farts.

    Your average reader only cares about style to the extent it either (1) Adds to the story or (2) Doesn't detract from the story. Style can add to the story, for sure. In fact, most truly great books do have great style as well and the great style elevates a good story to a great one -- this is broadly the case in literary fiction. Otherwise, the option is a workmanlike style that doesn't detract from the story, that 'carries' the prose competently while focusing on what is actually happening on the mental screen -- as in the case of most genre fiction.
    Sometimes I get on board with a genre train. If one day, I think, "fuck yeah, I want to read about cyborgs. That sounds awesome!" I know I'm not also going to get sparkly prose (unfortunately).

    If I want the "best" of writing craft, I read classic literary stories, for example, even though I know for a fact the actual plots are going to be uninteresting/pointless (in my opinion) a majority of the time.

    Usually, when I'm in the mood for reading for pleasure or improvement as a writer, I go with option B.

    I think everyone should aspire to greatness.

    I'm seeing a lot of bitterness in this thread, as if it's to be taken for granted that someone among us will never write a "great" story.

  9. #9
    I try to keep it simple, causing the reviewers to ask for more, but never less. I will stop reading a book if the picture is filled with redundancies like—the heat from the bright white sun…

  10. #10
    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.
    I'm pretty sure Gravity's Rainbow fits this category; I could make neither head nor tail of that shit. Other times, I look no further than my own work. Many's the time I've been told my style carries the load where plot fails miserably.


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