Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Verbosity with a Purpose

During revising we are encouraged to Cut Cut Cut. Concise prose is highly valued.

I see that, I really do. But I am a major fan of Dickens and Gabaldon. I like wordiness. The more sensuous the words on the page, the more I enjoy the book.

Partly this comes from my early childhood reading experiences. My Mama read Dr Seuss stories to me practically from birth, and I learned to read at age 4 by bugging my older bothers to share the books they were reading in school. Consequently, I had a VERY developed vocabulary and reading ability at a young age.

The summer before my fourth grade year I ran out of books. We lived 30 miles from the nearest library and only went into town once each month. I had read everything on the shelf at home as was driving my mother insane with whinging. Finally, in desperation, she pulled Shakespeare's Complete works off the shelf and challenged me to read it.

She said, "You won't understand it the first time you read it, but just go back and re-read it until you do understand."

She was looking for a good way to get me off her back. It worked. I grabbed the dictionary and the Works and disappeared for the remainder of the summer.

I read it, and read it and read it again. The first time it was mostly gobbeldy-gook. The second time I began to get a sense of the rhythm and flow. The third I began to grasp the plots, and by the fourth time through I was completely enamored with the elegance of the language and the power of the stories.

In the end run, we must right what we know. I know and love words. My goal now is to communicate this well enough that others who feel the same will provide the market for what I write.

Of course I am still cutting, tightening and polishing my work. I just doubt that the word concise will ever be applied to my writing!

1 comment:

Doug Hagler said...

I wonder if you might go for concise storytelling. That is, instead of cutting beautiful verbiage that you've so cultivated, cut extraneous plot, scenes that don't matter to the core story, diversion and so on. So then you have a precisely focused story without significant fat on it, and you tell that story in a verbose way.

I get much more impatient with wandering plots than I do with fancy language. Shakespeare is a good example - there isn't much wasted time on stage because there can't be. Everything has to have meaning, right? (What's the quote - if there's a gun on stage, it should be fired by act 2?)

The movie adaptation of LotR is a good example for me. They cut parts of the story that weren't connected to Frodo and the Ring all over the place. They also focused things on Aragorn as a kind of parallel storyline (in my view), but loads of things fell to the cutting-room floor so to speak.

Given that, it's still an incredibly verbose set of films.

Maybe not a good example for someone who isn't a hysterical Tolkien fan-boy like me, but it comes to mind.