Author Topic: Are you a minimalist writer?  (Read 2404 times)  

Online TimothyEllis

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #50 on: January 13, 2018, 01:31:58 AM »
That depends. Some writers can write a journey from Sacramento to San Francisco and fill up a trilogy. Some need to make a detour visiting Australia to even scrape at novel length.

Always detour to Australia.

It is after all, a very interesting place.  ;D

Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #51 on: January 13, 2018, 02:00:03 AM »
Always detour to Australia.

It is after all, a very interesting place.  ;D


The Sydney funnel-web spider can kill a man just by looking at him.   :-X
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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #52 on: January 13, 2018, 02:38:09 AM »

The Sydney funnel-web spider can kill a man just by looking at him.   :-X

Which is excellent plot material.

Online P.J. Post

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #53 on: January 13, 2018, 11:46:43 AM »
Writing lean does not = writing short. The length of books has more to do with how much is in the book in terms of plot, time frame, characters, subplot than it does with flowery or spare language.

Unambiguously this.

I believe the following joke (apocryphal or not) is attributed to Lincoln:

Query: "How long should a man's legs be?"
Lincoln: "Long enough to reach the ground."

I'd argue that we need exactly enough words to reach the end...which includes saying whatever it is we have to say, however we feel it needs to be said. This is why we have flash fiction, short stories, novellas, novels and door stops. I don't think we should add filler to inflate, but neither do I believe we should eschew the exploration of evocative prose and nuance for the sake of misguided efficiency. The Great Gatsby is 47,094 words long.

If the story calls for a character to suffer under the weight of soul-crushing heartbreak... then use as many words as necessary to convey the depth of that emotion and the consequences that ensue. A brief paragraph isn't going to capture this, I don't care how good you are. Emotional issues like this have to unfold naturally and be revisited over and over, just like real life, but not necessarily in an obvious way, which is why I mentioned nuance earlier.

For me, story governs everything, and the more seamlessly the elements of craft are interwoven, the more engaging the book will be; with the caveat that every step of the way, every set back and every achievement, every smile, tear and curse  - every everything - needs to be earned.

Offline Carradee

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #54 on: January 13, 2018, 11:57:09 AM »
Depends on what I'm writing. My first drafts are likely to be sparse, for certain, but that suits some narrators or stories better than others. I do overall focus on power dynamics and the effects.
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Offline williammeikle

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #55 on: January 13, 2018, 02:17:35 PM »
My favorite book is THE MALTESE FALCON. What do you think?

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Offline rjspears

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #56 on: January 14, 2018, 05:45:54 PM »
I actually found that my beta readers were asking me to pare back on my wordiness. They wanted simpler language and shorter paragraphs. From my first novel to my latest works, I've cut down my style significantly.
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Offline LovingLife139

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #57 on: January 14, 2018, 10:35:57 PM »
It depends on what I'm writing. My dystopian series had just enough description to help the reader form a picture, and I wasn't too wordy with everything else. My shortest book in that series was 49K, and the longest was 89K. Action/espionage scenes and dialogue make up the majority of those books.

For epic/military fantasy, however, I find myself describing a lot more. There is a lot of globe-trotting and military tactics in my current fantasy series, which both require careful description. I am really descriptive in battle scenes because I thirst for it. I don't just want to know that two swordsmen are fighting; I want to feel like I'm there. Hear the clash of metal, smell spilled blood, know the resulting injuries of accurate hits. I like grit and can't be immersed in action scenes without it, in my own books or otherwise. These books run from 89K to 160K.

Believe it or not, I used to have trouble reaching 40K. Most of the books I wrote as a child were 20K, and I had to work ridiculously hard at reaching a 40K minimum to submit a manuscript to a publisher just fifteen years ago.  ???

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Offline Fran Feliz / Cyan Ferne

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #58 on: January 15, 2018, 04:48:26 PM »
I suppose I am, yes. It's usually the range between 15K and 20K words when I start feeling like the story's ending before moving on from it. Most of my stories are over 1K to about 20K words, give or take.
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Offline ThomasDiehl

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #59 on: January 16, 2018, 01:03:24 AM »
Always detour to Australia.

It is after all, a very interesting place.  ;D
Absolutely, a place where everything is trying to kill humans is bound to be. ;)

(I used to have family in Sydney, though, and yeah, it is an interesting place)
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Offline dcswain

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #60 on: January 16, 2018, 01:28:38 AM »
I naturally write short, and I quite like the term "lean." My latest work is a fantasy novel, currently tipping the scales at 30k words, with probably another 30k to go if I"m lucky, which is unfortunate short for fantasy. Having said that, I agree that being "lean" does not equal not being short on detail. I like to think I leave just enough in the story to create a unique experience for my readers, irrespective of what the story is about.

My current longest, published, work sits a shade over 20k words, so I am in new territory, but am enjoying it. I've gone longer by introducing more story, rather than more back-story or other "stuff".

I guess the difference is I like my readers to infuse their own interpretation. How I see the story in my head will be different to every single one of my readers. I find reading books that go too heavy on description spoil the experience for me, which is why I tend towards the lean side of things.

I've got a couple of contemporary novels lined up next which are probably more suited to my style, but if you're after minimalist fantasy (sword and sorcery), watch this space in a few months time  :P

My favourite author is without a doubt Ian McEwan (closely followed by Bret Easton Ellis - who is not known for the minimalist approach - whole chapters on Huey Lewis and the News anyone?), which will influence the next couple of my books. I find his economy of words to be beautiful. There aren't too many authors who have won the Booker Prize with what is just about a novella (On Chesil Beach), but he never fails to captivate me with his held-back style of writing. (Except The Cement Garden - do yourself a favour and don't read it)

Overall, I think the key is developing your own style, whether it be minimum or verbose, you will (eventually) find your audience. With 7+ billion people in the world, there is an audience for your style, you just have to find it.


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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #61 on: January 16, 2018, 04:44:14 AM »
I'm teeeeerrible about writing too lean.  My first drafts always come in around 35k to 40k, all dialog, and I spend three or four drafts bulking it up to 55k.  I stumbled upon this incredible fantasy novel called A Darker Shade of Magic, though, and am reading it like a master class.  The prose is so sparse and clean.  Not an ounce of fat to it.  I think I counted two adverbs.  Yet, it is largely descriptive with barely any dialog.  It's kind of blowing my mind.

Buying it on your recommendation. If I hate it, it will be all your fault. :P

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Offline Mark Gardner

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #62 on: January 16, 2018, 04:54:22 AM »
Buying it on your recommendation. If I hate it, it will be all your fault. :P
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Offline Fleurina

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #63 on: January 16, 2018, 05:59:57 AM »
Quote
I'm much the same, no fluff no BS - I will struggle to add detail to characters though, that's my Achilles heel. I can write the action, their dialogue is easy, how characters interact with each other, but details like hair-colour and scars? Now that is a battle.

 I dislike unnecessary detail when reading and tend to skim, so omit what I think of as fluff when writing. Like yourself, I find dialogue and story relatively easy, but describing appearance - yawn - but I also dislike reading too much info of that ilk, so that makes sense, I suppose

Now, I'm off the check A Darker Shade of Magic.
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Offline EB

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #64 on: January 16, 2018, 06:35:56 AM »
I've evolved into a more succinct writer. I look back now at my first book and laugh at the chunks of slightly purple prose, but I can't hate it because it's a reader favorite.  :-[ 8)

Offline Gregg Bell

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #65 on: January 16, 2018, 10:45:37 AM »
Yeah, minimalism is great but it can be overdone. I get complaints now and then that readers want at least some backstory. (I saw an interview with Christopher Nolan, the "Batman" director, and he said, "Do people care about the Joker's childhood? No! He just shows up and starts killing people.' That's the movies of course but even so there's something to it for fiction writers too.)

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Online kalencap

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #66 on: Yesterday at 07:57:42 PM »
I was thinking of myself as lean, but with new novel coming out soon at 62.5 K and some of the comments here, guess I'm still within the average range. Of course, if "The Ancient Tripod of Peace" does get picked up for the kindle scout campaign -https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1X44DG0TTIURM - suppose edits could come back expecting me to add. But, I wrote a bit more lean than in the first one with first draft over 110 K (brought it down closer to 90 K though)

Offline lethomasjr

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #67 on: Today at 05:30:08 AM »
I started out in journalism....so I have to have a LOT going on in my novels.  8)

This made me smile. Nice to see another journalist/author. I spent more than a decade in the journalism field as well. I found it made me unafraid of deadlines, politicians and crime.

It also made me a very uplifting person to be around.  ::)

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Offline Muyassar Sattarova

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #68 on: Today at 08:03:23 AM »
I don't care about the number of words. Sometimes one word means more than a whole novel, sometimes - on the contrary.

Offline T E Scott Writer

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Re: Are you a minimalist writer?
« Reply #69 on: Today at 08:42:23 AM »
Yes.

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