World, Writing, Wealth discussion

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message 1: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1907 comments "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein


message 2: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15679 comments Albert seemed to know a thing or two.
Sometimes school or other framework dropouts turn out to be successful scientist, managers, businessmen, inventors and so on-:)
Simplicity? Yeah, usually better than complexity


message 3: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1907 comments Nik.

In our novels and novellas, if we couldn't say it simply, then we didn't get what we are writing.


message 4: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15679 comments Yes, agree


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments This is why Stephen King despises adverbs lol. Quite agree.


message 6: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer | 593 comments Interesting. I read the 2015 Pulitzer Prize novel, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and that has plenty of purple prose.

So the question I pose is, who decides if 'simple' is understanding or if description is beautiful literature?

And as much as I respect Stephen King, I disagree with his get rid of 'all' adverbs. I use them sparingly (did you see that) but I'm not about to exterminate an entire part of speech. I do like his other suggestions about writing, especially number 20. I think many writers are looking for fame instead of happiness. http://www.openculture.com/2014/03/stephen-kings-top-20-rules-for-writers.html


message 7: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1907 comments Denise make no mistake. Simple does not mean without description. It can be a dense book yet written beautifully without obfuscation and ambiguities.


message 8: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer | 593 comments Mehreen wrote: "Denise make no mistake. Simple does not mean without description. It can be a dense book yet written beautifully without obfuscation and ambiguities."

I actually didn't like All the Light We Cannot See.

I guess that's why I posed the question. Or maybe I'm just confused with the word 'simple' when it comes to writing. To me, simple is being direct yet saying it in the most prolific way. Example: "The day was gray, the color of Europe." This simple sentence captures an entire mood, setting.


message 9: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 1 comments Simple - plot, characterisation, language and vocabulary in and out of dialogue, structure, punctuation, etc.


message 10: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2277 comments And I always feel strange because my blurbs don't go on and on and on like they do for most books out there. I've got one novella with a simple single sentence description...


message 11: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer | 593 comments Philip wrote: "Simple - plot, characterisation, language and vocabulary in and out of dialogue, structure, punctuation, etc."

Well that clarifies everything! LOL!

J.J. wrote: "And I always feel strange because my blurbs don't go on and on and on like they do for most books out there. I've got one novella with a simple single sentence description..."

If it works, go with it.


message 12: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 1 comments Denise wrote: "Philip wrote: "Simple - plot, characterisation, language and vocabulary in and out of dialogue, structure, punctuation, etc."

Well that clarifies everything! LOL!


Sorry - meant to say that I like complexity in many aspects, I try in my own writing sometimes over complicating. If I wanted simple to read I'd stick to Janet and John, but give me a complex thriller I am happy.


message 13: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11461 comments Mehreen wrote: ""If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein"

Anyone who cites that should be forced to read "The Meaning of Relativity", by said Einstein. Einstein was commissioned to write it, but everyone took one look at it and threw up their hands in horror. Eventually it got published as a sort of tribute to him. I assure you, it is not the easiest book to read.


message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11461 comments Denise wrote: "Interesting. I read the 2015 Pulitzer Prize novel, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and that has plenty of purple prose.

So the question I pose is, who..."


I liked "All the light we cannot see", but I know what you mean about the prose. As a writer, I tend to be a minimalist on descriptions, etc, with the view of giving only sufficient hints to let the reader use his/her imagination, but I can still forgive other styles. Amongst other things, I think variety is important.

As for adverbs, I regard them as a tool, to be used appropriately. When fixing things, you do not use only a hammer; when explaining, adverbs have their place. (Note the liberal lashings of adverbs there!)


message 15: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1907 comments As a writer of fiction I want my language to flow like a river, not get clogged up with heavy words. Even though the plot and characterisation maybe complex


message 16: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15679 comments Philip wrote: "but give me a complex thriller I am happy.."

Sure, the language may be simple, but thriller plot shouldn't be, otherwise what would be thrilling?


message 17: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15679 comments Mehreen wrote: "As a writer of fiction I want my language to flow like a river, not get clogged up with heavy words. Even though the plot and characterisation maybe complex"

I know more 'heavy' words than simple and all the editors I'd been working with, were recurrently weeding them out and replacing with 'simpler' equivalents. Don't know if it's a sound approach, but I didn't defend the 'heavyweights' -:)


message 18: by Mehreen (last edited Jul 23, 2016 04:46PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1907 comments Language should sound like poetry, no matter how prosaic the theme.


message 19: by Jason (new)

Jason (jasonvigorito) | 5 comments I have been slammed by so many pat instructors and writing workshop folks for writing like a Victorian, lol. Critiques have come back regarding my verbosity as Dickensian or reminiscent of Poe. I can't help it, I guess. My praise for the styles of Wells, Verne, Fitzgerald, et al., knows no bounds. I'm a sucker for the verse, and less so for the plot. My English Degree's concentrations in Middle English and Victorian Lit are proof positive of that, lol.

We all write with our own styles, and mine may be outmoded in today's instant-gratification, ADD'd society. But the tide ebbs and flows, and our writings will live beyond this one era into many others. :-)


message 20: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1907 comments Jason wrote: "I have been slammed by so many pat instructors and writing workshop folks for writing like a Victorian, lol. Critiques have come back regarding my verbosity as Dickensian or reminiscent of Poe. I c..."

Those were authors. They crafted each word painstakingly. Lol nothing to be sneezed at.


message 21: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan I find myself working very hard to push any complexity into the background and keep the foreground simple.

For example, I have a substantial number of scheming, lying, conniving, back stabbing characters that are playing out their own hidden agendas.

Furthermore, they have shifting alliances, both open and secret.

When they come to blows, which is reasonably often, there are typically high body counts and I have to keep careful track of who lives and dies to ensure that the combats hang together and make sense.

Making sure that is all seemless to the reader and both simple to follow and complete, is a real intellectual challenge.

My brain hurts.


message 22: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Jason wrote: "I have been slammed by so many pat instructors and writing workshop folks for writing like a Victorian, lol. Critiques have come back regarding my verbosity as Dickensian or reminiscent of Poe. I c..."

Hi Jason, I suspect that a key challenge that we all face is simply finding and connecting with our audience.


message 23: by Tim (last edited Aug 29, 2016 09:07AM) (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments Jason wrote: I have been slammed by so many pat instructors and writing workshop folks for writing like a Victorian, lol. Critiques have come back regarding my verbosity as Dickensian or reminiscent of Poe. I can't help it, I guess. My praise for the styles of Wells, Verne, Fitzgerald, et al., knows no bounds. I'm a sucker for the verse, and less so for the plot. My English Degree's concentrations in Middle English and Victorian Lit are proof positive of that, lol.

We all write with our own styles, and mine may be outmoded in today's instant-gratification, ADD'd society. But the tide ebbs and flows, and our writings will live beyond this one era into many others. :-)


I often tell people that Dylan Thomas' short stories would not get published today. I know he's better known as a poet, but his short stories are simply stunning - humour and imagery, idiosyncratic, colourful characters that people stories packed with flavours that simply make me drool as I read. But I'm convinced his work would be cast aside by a publisher today with the rejection slip reading: "too wordy".

If you've yet to experience a Dylan Thomas short story I urge you to seek out 'Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Dog' ... Or better still, here's a link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00K1C1QU...

In particular read 'A Visit To Grandpa's' :)


message 24: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2277 comments I think it's simple jealousy that they couldn't write like a classic...


message 25: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1907 comments Mehreen wrote: "Tim wrote: "Jason wrote: I have been slammed by so many pat instructors and writing workshop folks for writing like a Victorian, lol. Critiques have come back regarding my verbosity as Dickensian o..."

Yeah, well What about Thomas Hardy, 'Jude the Obscure' too wordy by today's publishing std?


message 26: by Daniel J. (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 111 comments We live in a time with a lot of mindless entertainment. This is not a bad thing, but the aspects of mindless entertainment often bleed over into all entertainment, sometimes insidiously.

While the “keep it simple” rule is an important one, it shouldn’t mean to dumb something down for the sake of a wider audience, it should mean “say what is meant.” If the funeral “was sad” say it was sad, if the funeral “was lugubrious” say it was lugubrious.

“Simplicity” is achieved by being intentional with language, and giving consideration to whether or not what’s written actually says what is meant.


message 27: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15679 comments Nicely explained!


message 28: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments Daniel wrote: We live in a time with a lot of mindless entertainment. This is not a bad thing, but the aspects of mindless entertainment often bleed over into all entertainment, sometimes insidiously.

While the “keep it simple” rule is an important one, it shouldn’t mean to dumb something down for the sake of a wider audience, it should mean “say what is meant.” If the funeral “was sad” say it was sad, if the funeral “was lugubrious” say it was lugubrious.

“Simplicity” is achieved by being intentional with language, and giving consideration to whether or not what’s written actually says what is meant.


Haha... Dylan Thomas would never use one word when there were ten words he liked... :D LOL

For example: Quite Early One Morning - which is the first draft of Under Milk Wood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BirV7...


message 29: by Daniel J. (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 111 comments Tim wrote: For example: Quite Early One Morning - which is the first draft of Under Milk Wood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BirV7..."

This illustrates my point perfectly. The ships - off the shore of this coastal town Thomas is describing - don't "fall from sight behind waves", they "disappear again, going down, down into, perhaps, a Mediterranean blue cabin of sleep."

The statement alone may not be "simple", but it's clear that Thomas means this, so the statement becomes simple relative to all that is being said.


message 30: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments I have to disagree with the word 'simple' when applied to Dylan Thomas. Of course he meant every word - he wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote every word - I've seen his hand written notes.

I would describe his writing as a beautifully orchestrated total mess. Vivid images splashed on the page. I think he's unique and I don't think another writer can get near what Dylan does with words. He painted those old Welsh towns and characters perfectly.

But would he get published today? I think not, and if not, the world is a poorer place...


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All the Light We Cannot See (other topics)

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Anthony Doerr (other topics)