Tag Archives: writing

Authors Answer 130 – Till Death Do Us Write

For most authors, writing is a long term activity. But how long do authors write? What age do they quit? Or do they quit in their lifetimes? This week, we talk about how long we intend to write.

Question 130 – How long do you think you’ll write? Is there a point when you think you’ll stop?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I don’t think that I’ll ever really stop writing. I might reach a point in my life when I decide that there’s no point in attempting to publish anymore, but writing in general is just a huge part of who I am. I’ll always scribble out random scenes that pop into my head, or create new stories for other peoples’ characters. It’s not always about the end game of having a completed book; I write for fun, for love, and out of an almost physical need to, and I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s always going to be.

D. T. Nova

Stop entirely? Doesn’t seem very likely.

Gregory S. Close

I think I’ll write until I die.  Not non-stop.  There should be a couple of pee breaks, at least.

Jean Davis

I don’t foresee a reason to stop writing. There may come a time when I write only for myself rather than books I try to sell, but I tend to write the stories I like to read already so that wouldn’t be much of a change.

Eric Wood

I’ve always been drawn to writing. Even as a little kid I loved writing stories. I was always either writing stories or in a journal (not a diary!) or letters to friends to pass in the school halls. I don’t see an end to my writing any time in the near or distant future. Now I write a blog and I’m seriously enjoying it.

Paul B. Spence

What a strange question. I suppose I’ll stop when I’m dead. Why would I ever stop writing? I’m not doing it for the money. I’m writing because I’m a storyteller.

C E Aylett

Now I’ve been doing it for a decade, I can’t see myself ever stopping. However, lately life has become more hectic, complicated and stressful and I’ve lost my mojo a bit. I fully expect it to return, but in the meantime I am forcing bum on seat and even a paragraph a day is progress the way I see it. The only way I could see me stopping would be to let the routine slip, let life totally take control and not make the time for it. In saying that, I have ideas for eight more novels, half of which are already written in various stages of progress. Can’t see me giving those up, tbh.

H. Anthe Davis

I plan to write until I die.  And if we have reached a technological state by then that one can upload consciousness into the internet, or preserve the mind in some other manner, I’d like to continue writing after death too.

Beth Aman

I don’t think I’ll ever permanently stop writing.  I think there will be times when life is just too crazy to write seriously, but I think I will always pick it up again.  (Just like I sometimes go a few months without reading a book, but then I’ll marathon a series in a week.)  Being a writer is a part of who I am, now.  I think I’ll be the 95-year-old woman in a nursing home who won’t stop jotting down bad poetry on old napkins.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I don’t see myself stopping at any point in the future. Realistically, I’ll stop writing when I run out of viable story ideas, but I doubt that will happen or I’d even recognize my newer ideas as nonsense. So, I think I’ll be writing something or other for a good long while.

Cyrus Keith

I’ll stop writing sometime after they close the lid.

Jay Dee Archer

Stop? What’s that? I have far too many stories in my brain to stop writing. I want them out on paper (real and digital) for people to read. The process of writing takes a long time, and I think it’ll take my entire life to get those stories out.

How about you?

If you’re an author, how long do you think you’ll be writing? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 129 – Genres Helping Other Genres

People usually read multiple genres, authors included. Authors usually write only one or two genres, though. But can they hone their writing skills in one genre by reading other genres?

Note: This is the first time Authors Answer has been late in 129 posts. I wrote a post about this. A lot of things were going on. #130 should be on time.

Question 129 – Do you think reading different genres can help you with writing in your chosen genre(s)?

Cyrus Keith

Of course. I write science fiction. But I taught myself how to write action sequences by reading Louis L’Amour’s westerns. I taught myself tension from Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy. I learned revelation from Andre Norton, JRR Tolkein, and Robert Heinlein. The wider your experience, the more tools you get for your tool box.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I think it’s possible. Other genres can introduce you to new tropes and concepts that aren’t necessarily common in your chosen genre. I took some cues from thrillers when writing my science fiction novel Jasper, for example. There’s also something to be said for reading outside of your comfort zone. Who knows? Maybe you’ll pick up some a new genre-blending story idea.

Beth Aman

YES.  YES.  It allows you to experience a much wider scope of voices, and lets you see the strengths of each genre and learn how to adopt them into your own novel.  Who cares if I’m writing a High Fantasy novel?  I want to have characters as good as John Green’s or Rainbow Rowell’s.  Who cares if I’m writing a Contemporary novel?  I want to have a plot as complex as Throne of Glass or City of Bones.  Read wide, read deep, don’t limit yourself.  (But also read stuff in the genre you’re writing – it’s invaluable as well.)

H. Anthe Davis

I certainly don’t think reading other genres can hurt your writing.  It’s good to have a broad mind and an awareness of tropes and techniques throughout fiction (and/or nonfiction).  And there are plenty of novels that class in more than one genre, or subgenres that pull from several parents, so why restrict yourself?

C E Aylett

Well, storytelling is storytelling, no matter the genre, so I expect all reading will teach you something. I can’t read other people’s books when I’m writing my own as I become too distracted by the novel that’s been completed, edited, published and practically perfect compared to my lump of mess. I find I’m thinking about their characters instead of my own and I don’t want to unintentionally apply their story to mine, so I avoid reading novels when I’m working on one.

Paul B. Spence

Certainly. I think a good writer reads just about everything well-written they can get their hands on. I read fantasy, science fiction, horror, thrillers, mysteries, and lots of non-fiction. Many authors have great skills at writing, even if it isn’t in your chosen genre. Anyone can learn a lot from the good writers.

Eric Wood

Most definitely. I think the biggest difference between genres is the setting. Otherwise, the main story elements are closely related. There is still conflict and rising action and climax and a solution across all genres. Therefore, reading any genre will provide an opportunity to brainstorm new conflicts or perhaps an old conflict with a new solution.

Jean Davis

Yes, definitely. Reading other genres helps us pick up ideas and techniques different from our standard genre tools. There are always other angles that can be incorporated into a story to spice it up or help it appeal to a wider audience.

Gregory S. Close

I think reading in different genres is a great way to build your narrative vocabulary.  Genre is a pretty fluid concept as is, but obviously having great skill writing a mystery could prove beneficial if you’re writing a sci fi epic with a mystery at its heart.  Conversely, having a good handle on writing science can help add authenticity to a mystery set in a research laboratory.  Good writing and good technique is always worth reading.

D. T. Nova

Probably. Especially in areas where there’s any overlap.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Absolutely, yes. It might not seem like it if you’re, for instance, reading romance when you’re writing horror, but every genre has something different to teach you. You never know what kind of literary tricks you might pick up by broadening your horizons and taking a look at what else is out there.

Jay Dee Archer

Definitely. I write mainly science fiction, though I want to write fantasy. I don’t just read those two genres, though. I also read some classics, especially Shakespeare. And I enjoy a lot of science and history. Non-fiction has helped me a lot with my sci-fi writing. I use a lot of science, and my interest in history and cultures helps me with the development of cultures and change of cultures. In my case, the different genres help me with factual information. I think that reading things like historical fiction or war novels can help with writing combat or fighting. Reading fantasy could help with writing different cultures and worldbuilding. There are so many things you can learn by reading other genres.

How about you?

If you’re an author, do you benefit from reading other genres? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 128 – Ghostwriting

Books are not written by ghosts, but there are people who ghostwrite. They don’t write under their own name, but under someone else’s. Some people have their reasons to be ghostwriters, while others would prefer to write their own books. But how about us?

Question 128 – Have you ever tried or thought about ghostwriting?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

For the longest time I didn’t even know what ghostwriting was. When I eventually found out I thought the idea sounded very interesting, and I did, in fact, consider it for a while and did some searches around the internet for how one would go about getting into it. In the end, though, I don’t think I really settled into the concept of it. I prefer to write my own ideas, my own stories. I’m not necessarily saying that I’d never do it, but I don’t think it’ll ever be something that I actively seek to do.

D. T. Nova

I’ve never really thought about it. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to it.

Gregory S. Close

I have thought about ghostwriting, but unless the money was RIDICULOUS I don’t think it’s worth it.  Words and stories are all that I have to offer the world, and attaching them to another person’s name would be very hard.  If that allowed me to pursue my own writing full time, then maybe it would be worth it.  Otherwise, I want the blood, sweat and vowels I commit to the page credited to me, for better or worse.

Jean Davis

I have not tried or thought about ghostwriting. I have so many ideas of my own that I haven’t had the time to consider other avenues.

Eric Wood

I have both thought about it and done it. I joined an online writing website where clients seek writers for various purposes. The pay wasn’t great, but it was good experience. It may have paid more had I stuck with it… But anyway, I ghostwrote a book based on illustrations I was given. It was about two futuristic kids who flew through the solar system in their dad’s spaceship and learned much about space along the way. It’s called “Mr Eus – Story of the Future” and it’s available through Google Play and iTunes.

Paul B. Spence

No? Why would I?

C E Aylett

Have thought about it, never tried it. I decided I’ve got enough of my own ideas to contend with, let alone wrestling someone else’s. And it’s just another distraction from my own writing, so haven’t gone there yet.

H. Anthe Davis

No interest in doing this!  I have too much of my own stuff to write.

Beth Aman

I’d love to write ghost stories sometime!  Ghosts, demons, vampires, blood, death – wait, what do you mean ‘That’s not what ghostwriting is’?  Jokes aside, real ghostwriting has never seemed appealing to me.  If I’m writing something, I want my name on it.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Honestly, I’ve never considered it. I don’t think I could pull off writing as another person, nor would I want to. If I’m putting in the work to write a story, I want my name on it.

Cyrus Keith

Once, for about fifteen seconds. Then I blinked and looked at my own backlog.

Jay Dee Archer

I was once asked if I’d consider ghostwriting. Well, I didn’t. And I still don’t. I have too much of my own stuff to write. This makes this a very simple answer. I just don’t have the time to even consider doing this.

How about you?

Have you ever thought about ghostwriting? Or have you done any? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 127 – Writing Novels for TV Series and Movies

Many popular TV series and movie series have side stories written by independent authors. Some are official, some aren’t. But would any of us want to write one of these novels?

Question 127 – If you were asked to write a novel for a popular movie or TV series, which would it be and why?

H. Anthe Davis

As I am averse to handling other people’s characters (to the point that I would never write fanfiction, though I certainly read it), I don’t know that I would be comfortable with novelizing anyone else’s material at all.  I’m sure I can do it, but having heard some anecdotes about the process (authors ordered to kill off certain fan-favorite characters in tie-in novels, thus taking a lot of heat from fans), I don’t think I’d be well-suited to it.  I’m also no longer enough of a fan of anything beside books to really feel excited about the prospect.  I’d really just rather do my own thing.

C E Aylett

I’d never think to do that — it’s usually the other way around, isn’t it? Um… dunno, matey! Coo, you’ve stumped me on that one. Maybe Taboo? That’s nice and dark/gritty with lots of criminal behaviour in it — just my style. Or Peeky Blinders. History is often so much about the aristocracy and propriety and I always wonder what went on in the the nooks and crannies in the lower echelons of past society — the whore houses and opium dens, and the bootlegging. Historical fiction is starting to explore those areas more now on TV, which is appealing to me, just wish I’d taken that avenue before it became popular! Ah well, probably missed that boat. Bummer.

Paul B. Spence

I assume you’re asking what I would like to write one for. TV: Stargate, Star Trek TOS, Babylon 5, Doctor Who, any other sci-fi really. Movies: Arrival, Star Trek. Who knows? I’d be willing if I had a certain amount of creative control. I like most sci-fi and fantasy. Does that answer anything?

Eric Wood

I interpret this question to mean that I would write a novel based on the characters of that show or movie using the same theme or setting. With that in mind, after some careful thought I think I would a novel based on a new show called “This Is Us“. It’s based around three siblings and bounces from the present day as adults and the past as they were kids. It’s both funny and touching and it’s what I would want to write.

Jean Davis

Having just made it through the Iron Fist, I’m going to just come out and say the writing was not great on many fronts, action and dialogue being top of my list. If a writer had to step forward to help get that show up to par with the rest of the Marvel shows, I’d raise my hand (along with a lot of other people, I’m sure).

Gregory S. Close

I’m going to go slightly off the reservation and apply this question to a video game, instead of TV or movie.  I would love to write a novelization of Half-Life.  I spent a few years working at the real-life inspiration for Black Mesa (the Los Alamos National Lab) so there’s something personal in there for me along with the great story of inter-dimensional intrusion and government conspiracy mixed in with the mundanity of government contractor work.  I’ve always been surprised that this one never leapt to the big screen – this is a great horror/sci-fi story waiting for a broader audience.

D. T. Nova

Transformers. Sure it’s mostly for kids, but it’s still one of those that is very high in both the amount of existing lore to draw on and the potential for adding new concepts.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

There are a lot of TV shows that I’d love to write a novel of, but the first one that came to my mind was Doctor Who. The main reason is just that I love the series so much, I think it would be a blast to write my own story toward it. In addition to that, though, it just seems like an excellent series for a writer to delve into. It encapsulates such an enormous universe of worlds, creatures, and stories, that there is basically no limit to where you can go and what you can do.

Jay Dee Archer

Without a doubt, I would write novels for Star Trek, especially the original series and The Next Generation. But the more I think about it, Enterprise needs a continuation that takes it to the Romulan Wars. Of course, that’s probably been written. But anyway, Star Trek has been one of my biggest loves in science fiction, and I would love to write for it. I’d like to say it’s been a bit of an inspiration for my writing, too.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what would you like to write novels for? If you’re a reader, do you enjoy reading novels based on TV and movie series? Let us know in the comments section below.

A to Z Challenge Begins! The Jay Dee Show 26

I seemed to delayed with everything this past week. Well, here we are with some videos. And the A to Z Challenge has begun! I uploaded only one video for my main channel, but I have two for you from my science channel!

On my main channel, my regular weekly Authors Answer has continued. This time, I talked about the validity and legality of fanfiction.

Over on my science channel, I started off April with a bang. And it’s going to be a very busy month on that channel.

The first video I posted is the first of the A to Z Challenge videos, this time featuring the letter A and Alpha Centauri.

And then I made a video about what was to come in April and some changes I have in store for science news.

And that’s all for this week. Expect 6 videos a week from my science channel, and 2 or 3 from my main channel throughout April. It’ll be pretty productive!

Which videos did you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 126 – Is It Really Possible to Stop Using Adverbs?

Adverbs are something that people love to use in everyday speech. It’s very popular. But what about in writing? Do we really need to avoid using adverbs? Honestly?

Question 126 – Never use adverbs. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Disagree. I will concur that many writers these days rely far too heavily on adverbs, leaning on them instead of putting the effort into creating more descriptive prose. That said, every form of word has it’s place, and you can’t just discount adverbs all together. “Show, don’t tell,” is what’s often said, and I agree with that for the most part, but sometimes what is necessary for a scene is for the author to tell the reader exactly what’s happening. For example, if the narrating character has been struck blind for some reason, they’re not going to be able to describe the facial expressions or body language of whomever they’re talking to, so saying that someone said something “sadly” is a perfectly reasonable way to go about the scene. As with any writing method, we simply have to avoid abusing adverbs and use them only when they are necessary or work better with a particular sentence.

Gregory S. Close

Never use an adverb stupidly.  (I could not resist).

I don’t believe in absolute rules of writing like “never use an adverb.” However, I do believe that any time you use an adverb you should consider whether you’re expressing what you want in the best way possible.  Adverbs can be a short cut, and short cuts can be awesome in telling your story.  But if you use too many short cuts, it’s a little less awesome.  So, consider adverbs like seasoning – a little can go a long way, if you’re using the correct spice.

Jean Davis

Disagree. Adverbs add flavor when used sparingly.

C E Aylett

Oh dear, not that question again. Why doesn’t anyone ask about the use of adjectives? (Don’t over use them; don’t overstuff a sentence with them before a noun. Certainly don’t list them. That is how pedestrian description comes about.)

Don’t use weak adverbs (really/actually). Use adverbs when they make an impact on the meaning of the verb and twist it into something special/memorable. Make a list of unusual and strong adverbs (unequivocally/knavishly)  and keep them nearby. Slam unusual combinations together (he spoke haphazardly) When revising a piece, think about whether you need the adverbs you have and where you can either delete them or swap a weak one for one of the  more unusual ones on your list to make interesting contrasts.

In saying that, there will always be some adverbs that slip in through the net. As long as they are not overdone, why stress it?

Beth Aman

I would say use adverbs sparingly.  Adverbs tend to slow down the story, and often times they’re redundant.  It’s often better to use a strong verb instead of a weak verb with an adverb.  But there are times adverbs are useful; it’s your job to take them out when they’re not.

Eric Wood

I wouldn’t say “never”. However, I would say use them with care and caution. Be sure the adverb you’re using isn’t redundant. If the verb already states or implies the action then there’s no need to say how it was done. When you start using too many adverbs you get into telling the reader instead of showing the reader.
He ran quickly. The adverb, quickly, is lazy and simply restating what was already said. If the character is running, we already know he’s moving quickly. Instead, you should show how quickly. His legs pumped like the pistons of a racecar as he ran. Sometimes an adverb will be helpful. He lovingly whispered, “Take your clothes off.” This gives us an understanding how he did it. If you substitute the word “menacingly” for “lovingly” you get a completely different scene. There’s a reason a picture is worth a thousands words. It takes more words to show instead of tell, but it will be well worth it.

D. T. Nova

Never is such a strong word. It is good advice to avoid adverbs with vague verbs when a more specific verb would be understood, but that doesn’t mean that averbs are never the best choice.

Cyrus Keith

Never say never. But limit, limit, LIMIT!!! -Ly adverbs can often be a trap leading to lazy, sluggish writing. Why us “walk quickly” when “march” or “pace” not only save space but portray an attitude as well? I try to not use them, but occasionally a need arises where to not use one only leads to verbal acrobatics that scream, “HEY, everybody! He’s trying not to use an -ly adverb here!” But let’s just look at an absurd example.

Mark walked quickly to the dresser. He quickly took the gun and raised it. He pointed it at Steve. “Stop,” he said loudly.

Compare that to
“Mark charged for the dresser. The gun seemed to leap into his hand. Pointing it at Steve, he roared, “Stop!”

H. Anthe Davis

Why do we have adverbs if we’re not allowed to use them?  Use whatever kinds of words you want, however much you want.  Maybe some people will judge you for them, but writing is an artistic pursuit.  Absolutely listen to constructive criticism, but if you can’t abide by the changes suggested, just shrug them off.  There is no roadmap to the perfect story, no bullet-pointed outline that can make something automatically good or bad.  You’re the writer.  Do what feels right to you.

Paul B. Spence

Since it is impossible, I disagree. Everything in moderation is a much better approach.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I totally disagree. See what I did there? Every word in our language has a place, and the same goes for parts of speech. Now, there are plenty of occasions where the adverb/verb combination can be replaced with a more concise verb, but that doesn’t mean that’s the rule all the time.

Jay Dee Archer

I disagree. Adverbs can be incredibly useful when used correctly. As you can see, I already used some adverbs. There are times when adverbs are the most appropriate words to use. Rules like this are heard many times, but you shouldn’t say never. Of course, there are many times when you can use a better verb than a simple verb and modifying adverb. But not always. This would be better advice: It doesn’t matter what part of language it is, use it when appropriate, but don’t avoid it completely.

How about you?

How do you feel about this rule? Is it necessary to avoid anything in writing? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 125 – Is Short Better?

You know the advice where authors are told they should be as brief as possible? Cut out any unnecessary words. Keep it simple. Everything short. Easy. Yes? No? How did this paragraph sound? We talk about this very topic.

Question 125 – Use short words, sentences, and paragraphs. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Elizabeth Rhodes

Exclusively? No. You need variation in your sentence length, or your writing will sound monotonous.

Paul B. Spence

Only if you are writing for children. I assume my audience to be thinking adults with at least average IQ, probably even educated. If they can’t handle a word like existential or thermodynamic, they aren’t going to understand my stories anyway.

H. Anthe Davis

If this was a law, I would be in jail for life.  I have to consciously control the amount of dashes in my work — lest I end up with six sentences broken up like this one inside a single paragraph.  Semicolons are also my BFFs.  When I edit, I do try to break down some of my impossibly long sentences, especially since I often write them in the rough drafts because I’m still trying to figure out a concept; it’s sometimes possible to replace a whole clause with just a couple words, once I actually get what I’m trying to say.  But as I’ve had few complaints over my endless chains of words, and as I’ve read others’ novels which are just as wordy and tangled as mine, I don’t think the commandment to keep things short should be considered as anything more than a suggestion.  Yes, reread your stuff — out loud if possible — and chop it up where it needs it, but don’t chop it up Just Because.

Cyrus Keith

Agree, depending on the pace you want to keep. You may have a fight sequence. Short words and phrases move the pace quickly, because the action is brisk. Each punch, each kick, each shot, stands on its own. But if you’re waking to a pastoral scene next to a peaceful, meandering river, you want to slow down and relax a bit. Use the flowers, their scent, the taste of the water, the warmth of the summer sun, to lull the readers just a little. Just before you pour gasoline on your characters and set them on fire.

D. T. Nova

You shouldn’t use longer words just to show off your vocabulary, but to avoid them when they do seem more natural to you will come across as dumbing things down.

Sentence length should vary. Having too many long and complex sentences in a row can be hard to follow, but having too many short ones in a row can get monotonous.

Extremely long paragraphs should be used very sparingly, and never without reason.

Eric Wood

If you write children’s books, then yes. Keep it short, simple and easy to understand. If you write YA or for adults then feel free to expand upon the sentences. When short sentences and paragraphs are used too frequently the writing seems choppy and incomplete. To provide the reader with ample detail and imagery longer, more complicated sentence structure will be required. However, when writing a children’s book you need to take care to watch length and vocabulary.

Beth Aman

There’s a place for everything.  You’re a writer; words and sentences are your tools.  They are the building blocks that you use to create worlds and breathe life into characters – you should know how to use them.  Long, rolling sentences take longer to read.  They serve a purpose when used properly; I use them to explain things that take a long time to happen, or need a lot of words for.  They come across as luxurious, like thick carpet.  Short sentences are the opposite: they convey urgency.  They show that things are happening quickly.  I try to use short sentences (and words a paragraphs) for fight scenes and tense moments.  I think the trick to sentence length is this: read a lot, pay attention when you read, and pay attention to your own writing.  Read your writing aloud, get it critiqued, write a lot of things, and eventually it will become second nature.

C E Aylett

No, no and no. Please don’t. Variety is the writers friend. Learn how to use different word and sentence lengths to create effect. Some shorter sentences have a bigger impact if preceded by a long one. And some long sentences can convey wrought emotions better than any fluttering hearts and shallow breaths (read Pride & Prejudice for examples). There has also been a trend to substitute the use of commas for full-stops (periods). This not only creates a lot of fragments in the grammar, it also ruins the fluidity of the prose. Sometimes it works, depending on the voice, and intended style. But generally speaking, if you are not writing a story from a robot’s POV, avoid the stilted narrative and structure your sentences correctly. Except for when they demand you don’t for the purpose of effect. Using too many short sentences can also suggest the author is unable to handle complex sentences and concepts.

In my own writing, I tend to err on the side of short to medium paragraphs (though one paragraph could be one whole single sentence :D). I find white space is a writer’s best friend.

However, no matter what I say, it’s more important the writer finds their own style, what they feel comfortable writing. There’s no point inserting long words you don’t feel confident using, as that will be transparent. If using simpler text works for you then do that. I just finished a brilliant book called Chicago Loop which is an intricate exploration into the mind of a man with sexual psychosis. The vocabulary is not overly demanding but it didn’t stop the author from creating complex layers of character, so it read a lot more densely that it would have in the hands of a less experienced or talented writer.

What I would say all writers should avoid is the use of too many function words. Even with a good story too much <<to have/to be/doing/went/got/looked (my worse faux pas in first drafts)/etc.>> combinations and weak verbs and nouns will make an interesting concept bland.

Jean Davis

Disagree. That sounds like a choppy staccato mess. Variation in word, sentence, and paragraph length help a story flow more naturally and appear visually pleasing on a page.

Gregory S. Close

No.  Short words are not better words.  Short sentences are not better sentences.  Neither are short paragraphs.

Wait…

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Disagree. It all depends on a number of factors. I definitely agree that sometimes a thought can – and should – be written in the simplest, shortest way possible, but sometimes a bit of a ramble is necessary. Complex thoughts require complex words/sentences/paragraphs, and simple ones should be quick and to the point. All in all, any story should use a wide variety of all possibilities. There should be short sentences/paragraphs, and long ones, and the complexity of the word should depend on the point that particular word is trying to get across. Trying to keep everything as short as possible – or alternatively, trying to go the long route – makes a story boring. There needs to be variety, always.

Jay Dee Archer

I disagree, mostly. The length of sentences can affect the pacing of the scene. The length of paragraphs can affect how you read. The length of words can affect how you view the age level. But that’s not all. Ideally, there should be varied length in paragraphs and sentences, as well as words in some cases. If you’re writing an action scene, short sentences can be beneficial. It can make the scene feel more exciting. Shorter words can make you feel like you’re reading a children’s book. Shorter paragraphs can look like you can’t expand on anything. On the other hand, a wall of text can be difficult to read.

Shorter words can dumb it down. Don’t do this. Shorter sentences can be useful for action scenes. Use when appropriate. Shorter paragraphs are more common in dialogue, not narration. It really depends on the conversation. Vary the structure to make it sound more natural. That is important.

How about you?

What do you think? Do you prefer shorter or longer words, sentences, and paragraphs? When is it appropriate for them to be shorter? Let us know in the comments.