Monday, January 10, 2011

Less is NOT Always More

I keep hearing it over and over, "less is more." Don't get me wrong; in many ways, I embrace this idea. I've spent years filling every nook and cranny with 'stuff' and am ready to reduce, re-use, and re-cycle most of it. And I also would agree that in writing, it is important to get to the point. As a writer, it is easy to fall in love with the sound of your own voice, a particular turn of phrase, or an especially appealing description of something you feel passionate about.

However, I am going to stand up right here and now and disagree with the idea that "Less is always, always, always more."

After all, am I sketching a roadmap to where you need to go or am I painting a landscape that will carry you there?

A roadmap will get you there. Simple direct prose conveys to the reader exactly what happened and allows them to use their imagination to fill in the blanks. What color was her dress? Was there a chill in the air? Had the sun set yet? Had she ever been there before? Who cares? She bumped into her old flame and you fill in the rest.

There is a place for such writing and it certainly has fans in our 'hurry up and get to the point' world. A book written in this fashion is like cotton candy, sweet and easy to swallow, and gone in an instant.

However, there are also those of us who enjoy savoring the journey. Who, although we could imagine the details, enjoy reading a story that paints the picture with a clarity and precision rivaled only by hyperrealists like Denis Peterson. ( We want the writer to describe not only the color of her dress, but the feel of the fabric, the sound of the skirt swishing, and the way it makes her feel like she stepped off the cover of Vogue! We want to know that their song was playing in the elevator when the doors opened and she saw him standing there. And then we want to know about all the thoughts that raced through her mind as she recognized his face.

So I'm taking a stand. A stand against those who would whittle away at the craft of writing until it is little more than a text message complete with acronyms and abbreviations. I'm taking a stand to say that sometimes, at least for some of us, less is NOT more. It's just...less.


  1. Oh, I love this post! I could feel the romance in the air just from the description in your last section. Good for you for taking a stand! Wonderful truth well-written.

  2. Thank you Lori! Anyone ever tell you have the gift of encouragement? YOU DO!! :-)