Saturday, March 23, 2013

Efficiency vs Beauty

When I a write and edit I am always at war with myself. I always ask myself would it be better to write efficiently or poetically? For example, "He sliced the queen's head off. Droplets of blood flew off the axe, speckling Rosemary's cheeks as she watched in horror," or, "The axe fell like death's scythe, stealing the head off of the queen's pearl-white neck. The crimson that poured from that once unblemished neck, covered the edge of the axe. The momentum of the axe flung the blood that clung loosely to it into the air, and the specks rained onto Rosemary's cheeks as she gaped in horror."

The second is a lot more dramatic, and since it is a death scene, the latter would be the best choice, since I'm trying to make an impact. However, what about those times when the events that transpire are not so important? An extreme example would be the main character eating breakfast. Unless how the protagonist's toast is buttered is relevant to the plot, must I wax on about it?

Still, I read reviews and watch blogs in which people will complain that the language is too simplistic, or lacks creativity. I don't think it's wrong to want a book that does more with the language then simply use everyday jargon or string non-complex sentences together. Language can be quite beautiful, and it's wonderful that there are people out there that want that.

Even so, I love efficient writing. Some may like, "He hurtled down through the clouds like Icarus, swallowed by the sea." Yet I like, "He plummeted into ocean." It's so simple, and it gets the point across. Again, if the protagonist's fall is meant as a dramatic moment, I would be more inclined to choose the the first example. Even so, I appreciate the second sentence. It gives me the information I need to know, and then let's me move on with story.

In a world where a war is being raged over the average reader's attention between social media, video games, movies, work/school, family, and other forms of entertainment, is it wrong to respect the reader's time?

Yes, I don't want to read a novel that is merely dialogue with "he/she said" tagged on at the end followed by an action already repeated twenty times on the same page. At the same time, I don't have the patience to wade through pages of describing what the dinner table looks like, of the history aforementioned table (though I'm sure Tristan Shandy could pull it off marvelously).

Thus, I am always left torn when writing and editing as I try to search for a balance. Although, I think by now anyone who has read this post suspects, which way I tend to lean. I can't deny, when it comes down to it, unless the scene is dramatic/calls for beauty over efficiency,  I tend to agree with Shakespeare:
"Brevity is the soul of wit" (Hamlet Act 2, scene 2).
Although, even his quoted character went on and on:
"My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad. . . ."
Really Polonius? You couldn't just say, "Your son is mad"?

Well, not like I can talk, considering this post...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Another Update

It's been a little over two weeks since I last posted, though I suppose that goes without saying.

There is not much to say. I still debate with myself what to do with this blog other than keep readers in the loop with what is going on book-wise. I'm still editing two novels. I sent the slightly older audience aimed book that I mentioned in my previous post to one of my lovely editors to get a better sense of what needs to be changed. As for book number two, I am personally working on it now. I've made some story changes, and now I'm focusing on flow, wording, spelling, and grammar. I can't deny the last two will always elude me. The day I become a cyborg with the ultimate spell check I'll be delighted, assuming I can still feel human emotions.

Perhaps as I get closer to publishing the novels I'll post a preview.

I suppose I could also look through old poems or short stories to see if anything stands out.

Until next time, readers.