The Simplicity is Ridiculous!


The act of writing is simple. It can be as simple as picking up a pen or pencil and writing down a list of things to do today, or as complicated as planning out an entire series of novels, or drawing up complicated contracts for a company.

But when it comes to my own writing, I can’t help but think that it’s far too simple. I’m currently reading through the proof copy of my next book, “London Darkness: Infernal Inventions,” and as I read through it, I find myself wondering if my descriptions and my sentences are too simple. I’ve been told before that there are a lot of prolific details in my first chapter, which helps me to think that maybe I have nothing to worry about. But, that feeling still lingers.

I often worry that my descriptions are so boring and bland that the reader isn’t going to have any idea what I’m talking about. I try to provide good visualizations, and I think they’re mostly successful. But maybe I’m just too self-loathing about my own writing.

It’s a similar situation with my sentences. Some times they are quite short, and I’ll end up with two or three short sentences in a row. I can’t help but feel like that is bad writing. But, on the other hand, I’ve read on other blogs that it’s okay to break some grammatical and technical rules sometimes, because that’s how we use our voice best. Perhaps my voice is short and simple? I’m not really sure. I suppose it’s really up to the readers to decide, and I’ll just have to learn from that.

Goodness, that was quite a rant. Anyway, do you often feel the same way about your writing? Do you think your writing could use a little spicing up?

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12 thoughts on “The Simplicity is Ridiculous!

  1. I think everybody experiences self doubt but I don’t know what to do about it other than keep on trying to improve. Its funny because my last blog post was ‘is great writing a science or an art?’, running along similar lines as to whether there is something fundementally wrong with my writing or not.

  2. Simple is good. I have heard that comment directed at my own work. Make it simpler they say, its too complex… It comes down to writing what you feel is true. What is best for the story and the characters

  3. simple is not the same as easy, and neither is the same as boring. Simplicity, for me, is about clarity: putting concepts across clearly. If I’m wondering what the writer meant by something two paragraphs, or even sentences, ago, then either the writer, or I, has missed something. I am not an experienced writer…I am, however, an experienced reader. These are my two cents’ worth…hope it helps!

  4. First of all, if you have a lot of doubt with your writing, perhaps you need to have more people read it? The doubt will always be there, but having feedback and knowing that you’re getting help can make all the difference.

    Secondly, I don’t think short, simple sentences are bad. A lot of my writing looks like that too. I prefer it because I think it punches harder, makes a bolder statement. There’s always something to be said about a character who thinks or talks in long, droning sentences and never seems to stop, not even when they should, ESPECIALLY when they should. And there’s something to be said about the quick, one word sentences that a character speaks in. Powerful. Efficient. To the point. They all serve a purpose. If it’s serving the right purpose for you, then you’ve done your job.

  5. I’m a horrible judge of my own writing! Its good to mix up what sentence structure and length you use though. Just try reading it out loud and see if it flows to you. That’s what I’m going to do, I didn’t know to do that with my first manuscript however.

  6. Oh totally!!!!! 🙂

    I definitely have a pretty simplistic style, but I’ve been told it works. I try to add metaphors and similies to my work, but they stand out like a sore thumb (there I go with the cliches lol). I also try to add small details, to try to liven things up, smells, tastes, sounds, that kind of thing. But if I add to much, it just doesn’t seem like my writing anymore lol.

    Loving the new look hon, don’t forget you’re on my blog tomorrow 🙂

    Xx

  7. Yes and yes. My writing sucks. But, then, I like some of my sentences, and I’m still in love with my “idea”. And, sometimes, other people say they like my writing and I feel good about it . . . for a while. And then the doubt creeps right back in there.
    I take it you’ve seen that quote floating around about why artists take up art, and how we all start with a gaping hole between our taste and our skill – we know what’s good, we know what good art looks like, but our ability to reach it is lacking. Our only hope is to keep trying. And, sure, you could keep all your early work in a drawer and only put out your “good” stuff years from now when you’ve got thousands of writing hours behind you. But, when will you be good enough to do that? Problem is, our taste seems to grow with our skill. Our skill level might close the gap, but we’ll always see where we could have done better (even if we might not be able to see *how* at the time).
    And, as mentioned in a comment above – the only real way to gauge how you are doing: put it out there. Get feedback. Listen to the back-patters. Listen to the intelligent critiquers (to an extent … but move on), and ignore the trolls.

  8. Based solely on your blog post (I haven’t read any of your work and will have to remedy this soon), I’d say you have a short and simple “voice”, if you will. Also, my writing is very basic. It has a seventh grade reading level. I thought this was bad at first until someone pointed out that most genre fiction is like this. Do you really want to use bigger words to sound more sophisticated? Because “bland” usually means you aren’t using specific enough words (“a flower” instead of “a withered orchid”), but has nothing to do with their simplicity. Simple doesn’t mean bland, and bland doesn’t mean simple. 😀

    • I see what you’re saying, and I agree. However, I’d like to have a slightly more sophisticated voice, but not sound like a pompous ass.

      I think my main problem is that I don’t use the comma enough. I often worry that I’m not using it correctly, to a point, and that I’ll begin banding about run-on sentences.

      However, I fully plan on changing this. I’m going to set a goal of expanding my vocabulary, (nothing to extreme, of course), and extending my sentences. I think I just need to loosen up some and open up my writing to let it flow.

      Of course, short sentences can absolutely add some drama or help to make a scene tense, and I certainly plan on continuing those as well. I’d just like to incorporate the lengthy sentences a bit more in my writing.

      • Run-on sentences are bad in copious amounts, but the occasional rambling sentence isn’t bad. If it fits the mood and pace you want to set, go for it. Like you said, some grammar rules should be broken at times, especially if you know breaking it at the right moment will improve the quality of your work.

        Also, if you want a more sophisticated voice it doesn’t equal pompous ass. I mean, it can if you abuse it and use obscure words for simple things that really should be simple for clarity.

        Oh! And Stephen King said something in his little writing memoir book about voice. Oftentimes if you have a “everyman” voice it’s because that’s just what you’ve been immersed in your whole life and how you mentally think. If you have that kind of a voice, maybe it’s just something you can learn to cultivate so your work is very relatable by a broader audience? This is just a thought.

  9. As much as I know it isn’t entirely possible, I’d rather not have an “everyman” voice. Just like every artist, (haha), I want to have a unique, identifiable voice. I intend on working on this, and I think I’ll be able to fine tune it nicely. However, I’m going to do my best to not focus on technical stuff, and let my voice flow naturally.

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