Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tight writing

As a reader and frequent critter, I've learned something valuable for my own writing. Tight writing reads easier, even though it feels awkward during revisions. Pull one of your favorite books from the shelf. Read a few paragraphs and analyze the sentence variation. There are long sentences, of course, and short, of course, but all in all most are simply tight, basic structure sentences.

So when you feel the urge to keep that 40 word sentence, consider just for a moment how the reader interprets the sentence.

This goes hand-in-hand with purple prose. Here's the Wiki def:

Purple prose is a term of literary criticism used to describe passages, or sometimes entire literary works, written in prose so overly extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself.

Now prose can be tight, but still purple, though I've found that overly written sentences tend to also be, well, purplish.



  1. Sometimes we're blind to the purple because we have, after all, just crafted the most wonderful sentence--we think! But loving a sentence so much you hate to cut it should be the first thing that sounds the purple alarm :-)

  2. Kenda -- I totally agree. I have lines that I am sure are soooo beautiful, that are really just purple prose. I agree, if we're proud of the line to the point that we would hate to cut it, then yeah, it's time to hit delete. :)

    Amanda -- I don't think yours is especially purple!