Friday, July 17, 2009

Writing, are you lean or fat?

Writing last night got me thinking about a discussion thread on Absolute Write the other night. Someone asked everyone if they were a lean writer or a fat writer. I don't think those were the words they used, but they still work.

To my surprise most of the people who answered said they were lean writers, meaning in the rewrite their stories got longer with added detail. For some reason I assumed most writers were fat writers. They would have to go through their drafts and whack bits and pieces away to get at the story.

For the record, I consider myself a lean writer. My first draft is the bare bones. I am just framing out the house. It's in the rewrites where I hang the sheetrock and get some paint on the walls.

I wonder how you write. Are you thick or thin? Lean or fat?


  1. I think I would consider myself a fat writer. Or maybe just a slightly chubby that needs to tone up some.

    You have a far more focused and analytical approach to writing than I do. I just write and just kind of hope it sounds good. I mean it sounds good to me so I figure that's good enough. But it sounds better when I'm reading it in my head than perhaps when an objectiver person is reading it.

    But you are really interested in the technical side of writing. I would assume that will be the main reason that you are published much earlier than I am. I haven't gotten to that point where I focus on that. I guess I'm trying to build up my writing and working on finding my voice.

    I like your posts Jarrett - keep up the good work. And I still think you should just go for it and enter a contest.

  2. I think the proliferation of lean writers is due to the kind of fiction that's currently popular. Stephen King is the quintessential lean writer. When Poe and Lovecraft were in vogue, fat writing was all the rage.

    I would love to see the pendulum swing a little more toward the fat side. Our narratives are too sparse these days and I feel that some of the beauty in language is being lost. Then again, publishers are producing what readers will buy so it’s a byproduct of the market.

    Hopefully some wordy bastards will break through and remind people what it’s like to taste rich stories brimming with flavor as opposed to these lite-books with their reduced calorie tales.

  3. The idea here about lean or fat writing was more about first drafts, I should have made that more clear.

    But I agree about wishing there were more wordy writers around. While I don't like getting lost in pages of description, I think that some of the people writing today can be too sparse. I do like to appreciate the creative use of language every once in a while and those lean writers just can't do it as well. At least not in my opinion.

    I know there are some and I do admire the writer that can find the one word that is perfect to convey the emotion and paint the picture they want.

  4. I can't believe I wrote the word "objectiver" on a blog about writing. Seriously there were no mimosas or margaritas involved. I guess that's me still trying to find my voice.

  5. Lisa, I read right over that.