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Brevity is undervalued

tylergraham95
Posts: 1,464
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4/14/2014 11:37:02 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
In writing (and even cinema/television) I feel as if brevity is sometimes undervalued. I find this especially rings true in literature that is considered to be "classic." Take, for example, the Bronte sisters. Jane Eyre is nothing but a long winded tale of deus ex machina under the guise of "feminism." The passages drag on and on, and slow the pace of a book to a crawl, unnecessarily. The longwinded-ness doesn't even create beautiful imagery or symbolism. The passages are just bloated with superfluous fluff that is in no way needed.

Or look at Dickens or Dumas. Great Expectations and The Count of Monte Cristo are (IMHO) fantastic stories- and well written to boot- but both stories really needed some serious editing (though they were likely only as long as they were because the writers were paid by the word).

I remember when I was once reading The Lord of the Flies when I was approached by a teacher (thank god she wasn't an English teacher) who asked about the book. I told her it was excellent, and deep. She asked, how can such a short book be deep? Or even any good at all?

That is simply ridiculous! So many modern writers seem to think it vital that they cram as much fluff into their novels until the book becomes a slow, doldrums of what could have been an actually enjoyable novel.

This isn't to say that all long books are bad. Books like Don Quixote and the Song of Ice and Fire series are, to me, just the right length (and I highly recommend both). They are not drawn out, nor are they cramped.

I believe that saying what you want to say with the exact amount of writing necessary is a very admirable skill; the ability to write about a lot, with only a few words is even more so impressive.

I think that Vonnegut is a fantastic author, and I would say that he has managed to capture grand and beautiful themes with a thrifty number of keystrokes. On top of that, his language is simple, but accurately captures very complex ideas. Call me a fan-boy, but I really think this style ought to be emulated.
"we dig" - Jeanette Runquist (1943 - 2015)
Intrepid
Posts: 372
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4/15/2014 11:09:15 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I agree. The Count of Monte Cristo is about 1200 pages I believe. The abridged version is only 550. Lol that's a lot of unneeded detail.
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,446
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4/15/2014 11:47:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I don't think that brevity is the issue so much as density is. D. H. Lawrence is anything but brief, but his prose is just transcendentally beautiful. I feel the same way about Nabokov, Eliot, and other 'wordy' writers. The words have to actually affect the reader in a way which is conducive to illustrating a work's theme, whether its Hemingway or Faulkner. I also think that more dated writers simply seem more overburdened with words because of our perspective. Languages and cultures change, and reading people like the Bronte sisters can bring what differences have developed into stark relief. I don't think that they can really be faulted for that; as the things which they describe are those things which the audiences in their time found important.
"Whatever else is evil, the pride of a good mother in the beauty of her daughter is good. It is one of those adamantine tendernesses which are the touchstones of every age and race. If other things are against it, other things must go down. If landlords and laws and sciences are against it, landlords and laws and sciences must go down. With the red hair of one she-urchin in the gutter I will set fire to all modern civilization."
- G. K. Chesterton -
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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4/16/2014 4:41:31 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/14/2014 11:37:02 AM, tylergraham95 wrote:
In writing (and even cinema/television) I feel as if brevity is sometimes undervalued. I find this especially rings true in literature that is considered to be "classic." Take, for example, the Bronte sisters. Jane Eyre is nothing but a long winded tale of deus ex machina under the guise of "feminism." The passages drag on and on, and slow the pace of a book to a crawl, unnecessarily. The longwinded-ness doesn't even create beautiful imagery or symbolism. The passages are just bloated with superfluous fluff that is in no way needed.

Or look at Dickens or Dumas. Great Expectations and The Count of Monte Cristo are (IMHO) fantastic stories- and well written to boot- but both stories really needed some serious editing (though they were likely only as long as they were because the writers were paid by the word).

I remember when I was once reading The Lord of the Flies when I was approached by a teacher (thank god she wasn't an English teacher) who asked about the book. I told her it was excellent, and deep. She asked, how can such a short book be deep? Or even any good at all?

That is simply ridiculous! So many modern writers seem to think it vital that they cram as much fluff into their novels until the book becomes a slow, doldrums of what could have been an actually enjoyable novel.

This isn't to say that all long books are bad. Books like Don Quixote and the Song of Ice and Fire series are, to me, just the right length (and I highly recommend both). They are not drawn out, nor are they cramped.

I believe that saying what you want to say with the exact amount of writing necessary is a very admirable skill; the ability to write about a lot, with only a few words is even more so impressive.

I think that Vonnegut is a fantastic author, and I would say that he has managed to capture grand and beautiful themes with a thrifty number of keystrokes. On top of that, his language is simple, but accurately captures very complex ideas. Call me a fan-boy, but I really think this style ought to be emulated.

tl;dr
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?