The middle of a story. In so many stories authors fluff and stuff it with extraneous wording, unimportant to the story, like belles lettres; whole chapters in some cases to add girth to the thing. You know you're at that point when you're reading and your eyes begin glazing over, the mind drifts, and you're bored and wanting the thing to just get along or terminate. If one wants to thicken the book, why not just use heavier paper? Why burden me with your self-indulgent run-on? I know publishers can insist on this sometimes, maybe to justify the prices they want, that the bridge of the story be huge, but it's a mistake, I believe.
Is it just me?
Hmm, I usually get this when endings drag on. Though it may be that by that point, I've become worn out by the stuff in the middle and pray for a quick end.
Some of this may be due to pressure from editors to make the book longer. That was the fad a few years back.
These days, there has been no editing. I'm reading RED MANDARIN DRESS by the Chinese-American with the unpronounceable and spellable name. (How did they ever get away with dumping the Wade-Giles transliteration?). I'd read a couple of others of his with mixed feelings before. By now the man's success absolutely baffles me. This book not only is bloated with literary claptrap and Chinese history of the cultural revolution and mandarin dresses, it's also too often in broken English.
The advantage of journalism is that there's no room for waste. I bend over backwards to make sure there is nothing extraneous in my fiction.
Sometimes, though, certain things can't be avoided. One of the hardest things about writing Sherlock Holmes pastiche is emulating Conan Doyle's wordiness. It's difficult for me.
I think Doyle's prose style is underrated. His sentences are very smooth, very well controlled IMO, especially in comparison to prose from the same era. I think the same of Hammett's prose.
If you look at crime fiction over decades then you'll see the average novel length increasing. Take a look at how short Raymond Chandler's novels are, for example (with the exception of The Long Goodbye). I think there may be an economics reason behind it--the fatter the book the better the bargain, it's assumed by publishers that their customers will often conclude--and another factor may be that it's become customary to contract with trad authors to produce at least one book per year. And what was it Pascal said? Something like "Sorry I wrote such a long letter, didn't have time to write a short one."
We need a "Like" button. I agree completely with both of Eric's statements (including Doyle's prose stle) and have nothing to add.
I could support that.