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R is for Rambling

Where’s the Beef? Remember that old Burger King commercial…instantly iconic…re-quoted ad nauseam and associated with all manner of abuses. I like to use it when I’m referring to 350-400 page books that you’d need a large quantity of Luminol and a black light to find enough of a plot to justify that many words. In other words…there’s a whole lot of rambling going on!

I understand this is a personal preference…a subjective view of the material. Purple prose (flowery description) is very popular among some readers…I’m just not one of them. But there is a balance to be stricken because a story with no description is just an outline. How much detail does it take for the reader to become immersed in the narrative…and how much are you willing (able) to supply? Have you ever been guilty of consciously adding in extraneous details just to inflate the word count?

I’ve been in the middle of a conversation before and recall thinking to myself – “Now I’m just rambling”. My point was made a long time ago…and for some reason I continued to speak…becoming repetitive and nonsensical at times. I work hard at not doing the same thing with my writing. I can’t count the number of books I’ve read lately where the author repeats a plot point over and over, almost to the point I wonder if the material was targeted to people with ADD. Now I get that the purpose for some of that is because most people don’t read a book in one sitting, so you need to build in little reminders to help them remember what’s going on when they pick the book back up. There’s a point where it becomes tedious though.

I was going to say more, but I think I’ll end it here. I don’t want to be accused of rambling.  :)


  1. Hi Don - rambling can be a nuisance .. I agree ... I think I'd better not comment any more .. my posts are quite rambly ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. I've added extra words simply for word count - during NaNoWriMo. Then promptly had to cut everything once November was done. Sigh.

  3. I tend to write purple prose, but I cut thing out that aren't necessary when I'm editing. Although there are some descriptions I keep in to give readers a good visual because that's what I like when I read. :)

  4. I often get "lost in the woods" in conversation, but try hard not to do that in my writing. I do finethat sometimes I need to go on and on to tell the story. Then I spend hours in slash and burn mode during edits.I wish I could find that happy medium that would allow me to get the story down the first time in as few words as possible. Petting my word count is never necessary when I write.

  5. During NaNo, I ramble. A lot. But I do have a hard time reading stories that either ramble or have a 'slow burn'. I like seeing hints of a plot and action early on. I also love me some gorgeous prose, but only when I can see it around a plot.

  6. I think I'm guilty of rambling in writing and in person at times. I can revise what I write to cut out the rambling, but unfortunately I can't revise things I've said in the past that might''ve bored people.

  7. I do like a bit of purple prose, but I like a snappy plot, too. So, balance, as you say. I have never purposefully padded for word count, though I do feel like some books I've read have done that. I feel it happens in series a lot, and the writer/publisher are trying to stretch the plot out over as many books as possible. In verbal conversations though, yeah. I'm a rambler for sure!

  8. I suck at plot... that's why I don't write fiction... and I love to read authors like Anne Tyler who can amble through a novel giving an extraordinary amount of detail without purple prose...
    One of my favourite quotes is from Ezra in "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" when reading his mother's diary he observes: How plotless real life was!

  9. I often ramble until I find the thread I need. I used to think I was wasting time, but I discovered rambling can be very productive.




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