Sunday, January 21, 2007

Chris The Snark On Writing

You might enjoy Snarky Chris' insights. Read them here.

Caveat: Chris is a straight-shooting, sometimes potty-mouthed dude. So, if you visit his blog, expect that.

I will say, Chris-Babe, that I disagree with this bit:

And hyphens. Now, instead of writing, “The yellowing wallpaper on the walls of Mary’s bedroom with roses on it was probably older than she was,” I might write, “Mary’s bedroom’s yellowing rose-print wallpaper was…” Clarity and concision often go hand in hand.

I think "Mary's bedroom's" is a horribly clunky duo. Granted, the other example has its own problem: "with roses on it."

A rewrite would depend on the writer's and narrator's voice. Not all styles go for brevity, though all should go for clarity, unless the specific narrator is hiding something or is naturally meandering and obtuse.

The rose wallpaper, yellowed and coming unglued in spots, had probably passed more years dozing in that bedroom than Mary.


Mary and the wallpaper in her bedroom are both yellowed and creased with age, but I suspect the wallpaper's older.


Mary's wallpaper--pink roses gone yellow in spots--probably'd been glued up years before Auntie'd been born.


Ugly yellow wallpaper, tacky rose pattern. Gotta be older than Aunt Mary.

or any various combinations...some longer and more lyrical, some shorter and punchier, all clear, none wrong. Just a matter of style.


Anonymous said...

Mir! Thank's for the review and critique. I'm not in love with that bit of prose. But I still think it the best "solution." I base a lot of my style on David Foster Wallace's stuff. And he'll use posessives in some pretty weird ways. He'll line 'em up like ducks in shooting gallery. But I know this way ain't for everyone.

Actually started writing that story. But it's taken a life of its own and gone down whole 'nother paths, too harcore (dealing w/ a Nigerian FGM theme) to synopsize here maybe.

But thanks for the link and the "plug" and for your great open mind.


Anonymous said...

Hey again Mir,

Just realized I missed the point of all your variations. And you're absolutely right imo. Voice trumps concision. I lean toward an almost surgically concise voice in the 3rd usually, but not always.

Thanks again.


Did you really call me a "potty mouth"?

Ah, if only everyone was so gentle and kind.