Member Rara Avis
Hey Mike, thanks for stopping by!
You bring up some very good and valid points. I understand and agree that there are times and places where skimming (I still don't think I've properly put across what I mean by this) can cause you to lose out on some of the meaning/feeling/art of a story. Needless to say, I don’t' skim on poetry.
I disagree, however, that if I find a work that I feel the need to do that on that I should move on to someone else. Just because someone doesn't write the most fantastic prose in the world (uh, like me, lol) doesn't mean that they are not worth reading. I can think of a dozen authors off the top of my head, but I'll stick with old faithful for the moment - Terry Goodkind: he does write some really nice prose here and there, though nothing phenomenal yet. His descriptions (as noted above) tend to wander to the lengthy/useless side and are often boring. However, several of his stories have been well worth reading for entertainment value as well as presenting some relatively unique presentations. He has fairly well developed characters (though I must admit the main ones have a tendency to be mono-dimensional), and I just enjoy reading him. I could lose out if I didn't just because he writes some stuff that isn't amazing.
I haven't read "The Elements of Style" personally, though I've been witness to more than one argument over its merits. Reading just the section you've selected, I think that I'd have to side with those in the negative. (tongue in cheek here). In word, I agree completely with the statement this selection makes; why would I want to waste time with something that didn't produce the effect I was looking for?
The problem comes when I read into this statement - who determines what is necessary?
Easily answered of course - the author does. Uhm, but where does that leave the reader? At the mercy of the author, where she always is. Looking up, seeing Ron's suggested reasoning for Goodkind to spend two pages describing an outfit makes complete sense. I see it being likely that was the man's intent. But, in my op, he failed. So where is the validity of including what he did? A statement likes that bothers me because it precludes subjectivity. If I were writing to an audience that I knew would see things from my exact perspective, it would make sense. If, however, I am writing to a more general audience (because I am), I can't know what one person will like as opposed to the other. Rather, I should say, I have to guess at what they will all appreciate, and balance that accordingly. This is not suggesting that one should throw in words willy-nilly of course.
Brushing teeth - lol, I laughed at this, because I wrote a short story a while back (Nakatomi for those who might recall) where the intro was located in the main character's bathroom - taking a shower, looking into the mirror etc.. Of course, there was a reason for that, which I think was fairly obvious as the story moved on. Still, I found it funny.
Again though, I think this is a subjective thing. It could be argued that there are reasons for any words an author adds to their story. But this comes from the author's perspective. Now, if I'm writing purely for myself (something I do, though mostly in poetry) I can assume a narrow audience and place words as I wish them, the meaning only subject to my authority. However, if I want to write to a larger audience than myself, I have other factors to take into account - specifically the fact that others will think and read differently than I do.
The best example I can give of this is Kamla and I. We think along very similar lines, to the point we often call each other mind readers. We like the same books, the same types of writing, etc. And yet, when I write (or she does, it works both ways) she still often finds disagreements with my reasoning for wording things the way I do. If she asks me why I wrote a verse the way I did, I can answer her every time. The problem isn't in me being able to answer though, but in her agreeing or being able to appreciate. LOL - that's where I end up having problems. (and you know her, she has no problem pointing out something SHE disagrees with!)
You might never be able to stump me either, but that won't make me a great writer like Hemingway or Bradbury though. They became great writers though, not because they only used words that were needed, but because they used the RIGHT words and the right amount. I could argue all day long that something was necessary, but that doesn't make it pretty. See where I'm going? I have a feeling that I'm not explaining myself very well - lol, oh the irony.
As to making love - well, I can tell you this: one would get tired after a while of just eating lobster or prime rib. Our restaurant businesses in this country would be in a sad shape were we to want to eat only a certain type of food all the time. Diversity is a good thing - it's hard to appreciate the prime rib if you've never eaten a greasy hamburger before.
And finally - that explains a lot about Toe and those stories we hear!
Thanks Michael for such a thoughtful response. I look forward to your reply.