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  1. #21
    Those are cumulative sentences I believe. You use intransitive verbs such as showered that require no direct object. I was reading Brooks Landon's book the other day. From my understanding you use other parts of the sentence. Intransitive verbs is just one of them, and I haven't had the chance to study the rest. It would produce long sentences which is why knowledge of punctuation is a must. The reason I studied it is a long story in and of itself. But I wanted to learn about how to expand sentences. Even though mine will be short for a good while. I need to learn more rules. That being said when done right it can work since you use artistic license.

    The mind map is something I will have to workshop to know if it works. I appreciate the opinion. I consider it as a way to compose something that is difficult for me. It helps me imagine the setting as I said. I am still trying to acquire more books. Clarity is a priority of mine. So much that I am buying a 4th program that is text to speech.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    To my mind the better writing is still doing this, telling a story which provides entertainment, but also causes one to think about larger social issues. The writing which is dictatorial in its aim may well try to disguise this with fancy prose, talking down to the reader in effect.
    It seems that the problem lies in the term 'fancy prose' and the semantics. It's subjective, but if one's perception is 'this is fancy prose' the chances are what they really mean is it's unnecessarily/distractingly ornate.

    Kind of like when people ask 'do you prefer to be too hot or too cold?' the correct answer to that is ALWAYS 'they're both the same' because too much of anything is too much. If either one is tolerable, then neither is 'too'.Likewise, if something is 'fancy' then we are calling it as such, usually, according to our own subjective standards and 'fancy' is generally (though perhaps not always) a negative observation, or at least a neutral one, as opposed to, say, 'poetic' or 'masterful' or something that is usually a positive -- a 'plus'.

    Not sure if that all makes sense but that's essentially why I feel 'fancy prose' is generally a bad thing although potentially separate from complex prose.

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    The protestant propogandists introduced the concepts of 'Prose so plain, that the least child in the town may understand thee', and to write well was to 'Speak as the common people do, to think as wise men do.'
    Before that writing was the province of the elite who 'interlace phrases with Italian terms, powder style with French, English or inkhorn rhetoric to feed the dainty ears of delicate yonkers'.

    Do you like your language plain and simple, or do you savor rhetoric, long words, and flowery phrases? Do you write seriously of serious matters, or do you agree 'Jesting is lawful by circumstance even in the greatest matters' ?

    Yonkers, later younkers, by the way, means young people, not inhabitants of the city by New York.

    I imagine that most will go for 'plain', but I do know those who read Dickens avidly for his florid prose, I can't accept that one is The Correct Way, nor that the other should always be rejected, although it is now a matter of style. One Bishop in the sixteenth century rejected plain prose because it meant common people were discussing matters that were the prerogative of Kings, I guess we all do that now.
    Flowery prose often flows around description and is used to provide a mood to the scene. Still though, the wording doesn't have to be overly ornate - I believe it's best to provide the bare bones of description with just enough decoration to show the mood of the POV character - then leave filling in the details up to the reader.

    I ride a motorcycle (not so much this year thanks to covid and the riots in the big cities) and will work on my writing as I ride by mentally describing the surroundings. What does the air feel like when riding across the Mojave Desert in the middle of summer? What do the restaurants smell like when riding through Bar Harbor Maine? The more I pay attention the easier it gets to describe them.

    Again though - these descriptions are best when word usage is economical.

  4. #24
    People here took my plain sentences and rewrote them to be a lot more interesting. Context was irrelevant for that, but now it is not. The start of the book is a lot of uninteresting sentences with one interesting event that is supposed to stand out.

    My friends are discussing shoes. They're excited, enthused, sometimes appalled, sometimes thrilled to agree. I love sitting here, sopping up their emotions -- this is what I live for. But something's bothering Celeste. Ugh, I'll try talking with her later.

    I look around the lunchroom. There's silliness, intensity, posing, loneliness, people just -- what's with that one guy at the jock table? I can't read him. That's really strange.

    Elaine pokes me and says, "Grade on the Chemistry test." They switched topics.
    I'm building character and setting, so all the sentences are working hard. But the reader's interest should be drawn by the anomaly -- that guy across the room.

    So making the first sentence interesting would undermine my intended effect. (It might be suicidal to have an uninteresting first sentence, of course.)

    There is one fancy thing in there -- a dash to show interruption of thought. But that's the most important part of the passage.

    Even making that one intended-to-be-interesting sentence more interesting to read might defeat my purpose too. I want the event to be interesting, not the sentence. The event can't be too interesting, that doesn't work for the story flow of her attention going back to her friends.

    And it's that way for the other rewrites. Adding a simile makes a boring sentence interesting -- but the actual context was a fast-action scene, and I don't think I would ever use a simile in the context of a fast-action scene.
    My website (Hidden Content ) has good essays on starting a book and using metaphoricals.

  5. #25
    WF Veteran Tettsuo's Avatar
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    How complex or mundane a sentence is depends on the narrator. If a character is narrating, that character's level of education, social environment, who they're speaking to and age (and more) must all come into play, imo.

    Personally, I'm more prone to write plain, mostly because my goal is never to impress with language, but to express an idea. It's actually difficult to explain something emotional in plain language and make it understandable to most than to go digging around in an thesaurus looking for words to impress people (mostly other writers) with. I'm always more impressed with writers that can get tears to fall than writers that make me go to the dictionary to understand what they're trying to say.
    Where you can purchase a copy of Fallen Sun, my second novel. Hidden Content

  6. #26
    I believe it's a good idea to vary the length and complexity of our sentences because it makes for more interesting reading.

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    This is a normal thing to say, but my subjective opinion is that King is a master craftsman for writing clearly in a way that feels effortless and friendly to read. Which is to say, he doesn't just decide to write plainly, he's really good at that; he would be almost impossible to imitate without a lot of skill.

    In the grammar book I am working on, I have high praise for his use of "the gun" instead of "a gun" -- I would never have thought to write "the gun", but it works brilliantly. Does that count as surprising? It's not flowery, but is it plain?

    But yes, his goal is to tell the story, and if his writing draws no attention that's probably good. Or, to be more precise, he is not just providing information, he is creating a reader experience. He is usually plain, but not when he needs more.
    I should have been more clear. As I said, I have read (and enjoyed) most of King's work. I think he's a great writer. But I consider him to be a different kind of writer when compared with Burke. A quote from James Lee Burke:

    I would start with four fingers of Jack in a thick mug, with a sweating Budweiser back, and by midnight I would be alone at the end of the bar, armed, drunk, and hunched over my glass, morally and psychologically insane.

    Ironically, it's an almost King-esqe situation, but Stephen King would never have written that sentence, or anything like it.

    I enjoy a good story regardless of the prose, but I like reading a lot more when the author's skill with words delights me.

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Earp View Post

    “I would start with four fingers of Jack in a thick mug, with a sweating Budweiser back, and by midnight I would be alone at the end of the bar, armed, drunk, and hunched over my glass, morally and psychologically insane.”
    Wonderful writing. So powerful. It makes a great example.

    I will note, that it could have begun

    Starting with four fingers of Jack....
    So the underlying grammar is a little simpler and more direct than it might look. The complicated grammar part is the list at the end, and I'm not sure Burke maximized on that, though it looks like a very thoughtful sentence and I don't like to criticize thought-out decisions. I think it's clearer with "hunched over" moved up, and I like more isolation of the powerful ending. I am probably just changing style, but:

    I would start with four fingers of Jack in a thick mug, with a sweating Budweiser back. By midnight I would be hunched over my glass and alone at the end of the bar -- armed, drunk, and morally and psychologically insane.”
    I think that might be a more complicated grammar. But I am trying to find a structure that best brings out the ideas.

    So, a lot of the glory of that sentence is the ideas. This seems like an important sentence, so the precise detail that brings it to life seems very appropriate. Slowing down the reader to visualize that is great.
    My website (Hidden Content ) has good essays on starting a book and using metaphoricals.

  9. #29
    There is still an issue when the detail is devoted to a sentence I will not bother finishing because it seems unimportant and is too hard for me to process and will probably be unrelated to the story.

    At dawn the antebellum homes along East Main loomed out of the mists, their columned porches and garden walkways and second-story verandas soaked with dew, the chimneys and slate roofs softly molded by the canopy of live oaks that arched over the entire street. (Burke)
    It takes me a while to visualize oaks (as opposed to trees), and I cannot imagine them making a canopy of an arch over a street. This picture has a kind of an arch, but I would not call it a canopy.

    I do not know what an antebellum home looks like and frankly could not distinguish one from a "prebellum" house. I suspect Burke meant antebellum South, and if you read between the lines, I don't think he cares about antebellum except as a fancy word for old. Why would we see a garden walkway from the street? I think it would have to be dirt to be soaked with dew, right? I don't think we're supposed to imagine dirt, I suspect we're supposed to imagine beads of dew on the paved sidewalk. I don't know how the tops of houses can loom out of the mist.

    I mean, I understand there are readers who like this. Obviously I am not one of them.
    My website (Hidden Content ) has good essays on starting a book and using metaphoricals.

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Wonderful writing. So powerful. It makes a great example.

    I will note, that it could have begun



    So the underlying grammar is a little simpler and more direct than it might look. The complicated grammar part is the list at the end, and I'm not sure Burke maximized on that, though it looks like a very thoughtful sentence and I don't like to criticize thought-out decisions. I think it's clearer with "hunched over" moved up, and I like more isolation of the powerful ending. I am probably just changing style, but:



    I think that might be a more complicated grammar. But I am trying to find a structure that best brings out the ideas.

    So, a lot of the glory of that sentence is the ideas. This seems like an important sentence, so the precise detail that brings it to life seems very appropriate. Slowing down the reader to visualize that is great.
    Your version is good too, though I doubt if Burke has ever used a em or en dash. I should mention that my favorite author is Hemingway who does much the same thing as Burke, but with far fewer words. Another example of the kind of prose I love to read, from John D. MacDonald, not for the sentiment expressed, but the way he says it:

    “I do not like the killers, and the killing bravely and well crap. I do not like the bully boys, the Teddy Roosevelts, the Hemingways, the Ruarks. They are merely slightly more sophisticated versions of the New Jersey file clerks who swarm into the Adirondacks in the fall, in red cap, beard stubble and taut hero’s grin, talking out of the side of their mouths, exuding fumes of bourbon, come to slay the ferocious white-tailed deer. It is the search for balls. A man should have one chance to bring something down. He should have his shot at something, a shining running something, and see it come a-tumbling down, all mucus and steaming blood stench and gouted excrement, the eyes going dull during the final muscle spasms. And if he is, in all parts and purposes, a man, he will file that away as a part of his process of growth and life and eventual death. And if he is perpetually, hopelessly a boy, he will lust to go do it again, with a bigger beast.”
    ― John D. MacDonald, A Deadly Shade of Gold

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