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WORDS WORDS WORDS

February 18, 2015

Whether we’re readers or writers, we have to love words to some degree. After all, they’re the medium with which we convey information, the tools of our trade, the way in which we absorb information. Today, I want to pose some questions about words.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Many of my critiques on Amazon talk about the pace of the story. I often use phrases like a fast read, or the story crawled. Why is that?

Some people, in particular the literary-minded, love the shape, feel and meaning of words, the more the better, as long as they make sense and stimulate the mind – paint elaborate pictures for them.

On the other hand, the genre-minded reader wants to get to the point and doesn’t want to wallow in every minute detail of every minute detail.

Since I cannot cite a literary example of too many words (because I don’t read that genre), I’ll have to rely on a genre I have read such as fantasy. The biggest example of way too many words for me is the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I distinctly remember slogging through a hundred pages in which almost nothing happened… a hundred pages!

The Wheel of Time series is a huge seller and the fan base is well-established. Look at many fantasy novels today and you’ll see how thick they are, many easily topping 200K words. In some of them, a lot happens while in others, not so much.

I once read a literary horror novel by a guy named David Searcy called Last Things and though it was supposed to be horror (icky bug), it wasn’t and not a thing happened for the entire novel – not a thing. Yet, it was a fascinating read in the context of describing West Texas. That was it.

Words – lots of words.

This is not meant to bash these writers. I simply don’t get their style.

HOW MUCH IS NOT ENOUGH?

To tell the truth, I can’t think of a single book I’ve personally read that didn’t have enough words. Why? A quick read for me is a pure pleasure. A quick read gets to the point and gets the job done, plain and simple. Do I want to feel the mountains and breathe the air? Do I want to know every single innermost thought of the character?

I want to know who the character is, what they are doing, why, and the same for the main bad guy. I don’t need minute details. I need a clean to somewhat complex but fun plot and trappings as long as sidetracking is kept to a minimum. I need enough detail to paint a picture of the characters and what they’re doing and why. However, if it stalls on minutiae fugeddaboudit.

THOSE CERTAIN BOOKS

There are certain books that aren’t particularly long, but are just a pain to read. I really have to work at it. Why? The prose is plodding and full of descriptive narrative without necessarily being literary. There’s a science fiction author with an alternative history series. I read a few of his stories and though the premise was quite interesting, they were a lot of work. The pages didn’t have a lot of blank spaces on them and held lots of long paragraphs. I stuck with the series for a while, but finally lost interest because I just got sick of having to plod through all that endless narrative. It wasn’t an easy read. The same for this archaeological series I tried to stick with. Each series has several books I never got to and probably never will tackle unless I’m desperate.

If you’re a word lover but want a genre plot, these two series might just be your thing.

WHICH TYPE ARE YOU?

Do you like to get lost in lots of words, or do you like to get to the point?

Happy writing!

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