Interesting info graphic on anatomy of a bestseller... especially interesting is the decline in the number of words per sentence since 1811. Are we dumbing down ? http://bit.ly/29ZuDlY
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In the Victorian era, authors were paid a penny a word. It made sense to write longer. And readers were used to loose, baggy sentences.
"Loose, baggy sentences... " I love that :)
Did you ask "Are we dumbing down?" ;)
RB---Yes I'm asking... and I'm curious what others think. For me it's kind of interesting the change in sentence structure over time. It all boils down the the difference between writing and storytelling... and how writing has nothing to do with telling a story. But, writing is changing... not stories (really). Why? That's a very curious thing to me.
It's a valid question, Jeff. I'm a big reader of non-fiction. Have been for years. Lately, as part of some research into a screenplay I'm developing, I've been reading a ton of fiction - recent fiction. I've been stunned at the quality (or lack thereof) of the writing. In some instances, I find it hard to believe there was an editor assigned to the project. Now, don't mistake this for style. Fragments, run ons, etc, can all be part of a writer's style and that style certainly can service the story. I'm talking about straight up poor writing and grammar.
RB--Yeah... I hear you. I work a lot with novelists. It's kind of frightening. And while there are some great editors still out there (like at Algonquin Books) ... the days of Maxwell Perkins are long gone. :) Hemingway was famous for his short, truncated style (which I love), and Faulkner notorious for sentences in the hundreds or thousand-plus words ... but what we're seeing today isn't conscious style for the most part. It's just bad style--period. Don't know why or how to "fix" it ... but like the addition counselor say, "Knowing you have a problem is the first step... " :)
My thoughts, I'm not a good writer because I drop out of school at a young age, but some times a person that doesn't write good can have a great story to tell. Many times people will look at the writing and judge it and not take interest in it. There are many times when that happens that you throw an opportunity away an opportunity that can make a great movie and make it big.
Writing screen plays is a totally different style of writing that writing novels- or so I've been told.
I don't know if we're dumbing down or just becoming more efficient with our language. I mean, you read Edward Gibbons and it takes him three paragraphs to say "That was a mistake." Couple this with the digital age of twitter and facebook, texting and message boards... I don't think we're becoming dumber (we have more access to information than any generation before us), but we are becoming more direct and shorter with our language as a result.
Not in the 974 page novel I just finished reading :)
Erik - I agree with your point, but, I do think that people become exposed to basically what is in front of them. And these days that is mainly supplied by pop culture. We have the accumulation of most of the entire body of knowledge of mankind on the internet at our fingertips, but, if one doesn't have the background to realize what it's relevance is, and why it's there, and why it needs to be checked out, then it might as well be a million miles away or buried under the Arctic ice. People learn what they want to know- I think a lot of today's focus on indoctrination, not education, has demonized the pursuit of the alternate idea. I think it's the reason that a lot of movies are struggling at the box office these days, is that the new writing class, although very proficient and creative in their own right, are so rigid in their belief systems, that the final product comes off as phony. People don't like to be insulted when they're trying to have a good time and watch a movie. That's why GB's remake sucks. People always have all kinds of questions about writing, and how to make this character this way or that way, but I think it all comes back to having the ability to think critically. That's what's been lost for many, unfortunately. Of course I could be wrong.