Thursday, April 15, 2010

Less Is More

Another email about writing:

"This is what I mean when I say that authors must first do no harm. I think authors can write about anything, as long as they do it in a way that helps their reader become a better person in some way. Nothing should go into your book merely for prurient interest, or to shock, or to be edgy. If nothing else, it's just bad writing. Less is often more. Hitchcock is much more suspenseful than Freddie Krueger. The movie romances of the 40s and 50s with their subtlety is much more romantic than most of today's romances. Of modern films While You Were Sleeping is one of the most romantic, and the furthest they go is a kiss at the end.

Edgy will also lose you sales.

So, if you're writing hard things because you want to help kids going through serious issues to get through them and come out on top, great. Books like that are needed.

But if you're doing it for any other reason, you might risk having a more poorly written book that doesn't sell as well as it could. And there's a chance you might encourage attitudes in kids that would actually harm them. And you don't want that."

Here's an interesting list of top grossing movies in the U.S.(in no order): "Avatar", "Star Wars", Pirates of the Caribbean", "Lord of the Rings", "E.T.", "Titanic", "Dark Knight", etc. With the exception of "Titanic" (a few scenes could have been cut and not hurt the movie) there was no sex and few innuendos in those movies. If the movies can make money on "less is more" why can't books?
And most of my favorite romantic movies that I like to watch and again and again are clean. Why not books?
What do you think?


Caledonia Lass said...

I have to agree. Less is more. I've always felt that way. I tried writing an horror/vampire story and thought that swearing profusely would make it better, but I stopped the project. I've got different plans for it, of course, but using the voice I am comfortable with.
Funny, I swear a lot in private, in my home, but I can't bring myself to swear so much in a book especially if I know kids will read it. I also keep my scenes clean with just the merest hint of romance for the same reasons. I do not want to be held accountable for corrupting someone other than myself. ;)

Taffy said...

That's interesting, Mel. Do you ever watch a movie then watch it later with your kids and can't believe you thought it was "clean?" lol

Angie said...

I totally agree. I am always so glad to find a book that is good and still clean. It's what I want to read. It's what I want to write too. We need more uplifting stuff out there.

Taffy said...

I agree, Angie. It's nice to pick up and read a book you don't feel you have to monitor while you're reading.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I totally agree with you! Thanks for the great post!

Cathy Witbeck said...

Less is more is such a great phrase. I learned it as an expression about art work. When you are painting you don't want to over do it and clutter your image with unnecessary stuff that will detract the viewers eye from the focal point. You can compare that to writing and say that books that are full of gunk detract from the story and lead readers astray.
Great blog, Taffy.

Taffy said...

Thanks Kathi and Cathy :)
Painting is telling a story and too much junk detracts the eye. Good comparison, Cathy.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

Well said. I hadn't thought about how all the top movies are so "clean".