I'm writing a fantasy novel for young adults and my boyfriend said my writing is at too advanced (Example is given). Is it?

So, for anyone who doesn't know, I'm an English teacher, and I've always wanted to write a novel. However, I know sometimes my writing can be a bit... much for some people. I really like my style but my boyfriend said I may need to tone down the words and sentence structure so it's more easily understood by my target audience (between the ages of 18-30). What do you think? Here's a paragraph from the story. Are the words and sentence structure too difficult? by the way, my boyfriend personally likes it, he's the type to read Moby Dick a hundred times for the fun of it. But he thinks it'll sell better if I make it easier to read.

"The only thing [she] learned from her studies with Wizards was the history of the lands through the books that the students were permitted to read, which she was supposed to bring with her to evening service. However, she had left them in her billet, as she had lost track of time meditating in the forest, a place of quietude and one of few areas near the city she could focus, clearing her mind of all deleterious thought. Still, she weaved through the infinite number of Sages and Wizards, hastening her stride with every footstep, attempting to reach the Sanctum before the service began."

It's just a rough draft, so I still have editing to do. Should I use more simple words and shorten some of my sentences? I'm still in the beginning stages of the book and would like to know what you guys think. And, before you ask, I don't use a thesaurus unless I'm trying to ensure I don't use an adjective, adverb, verb, or sometimes a noun in the same sentence, so I didn't use one in this paragraph.
  • Your style and word choice is fine the way it is.
    Vote A
  • You should make some of the words smaller and sentences shorter.
    Vote B
  • The words are fine, but the sentences are too long.
    Vote C
  • The sentences are a good length, but the words are too advanced.
    Vote D
Select age and gender to cast your vote:
I'm a GirlI'm a Guy
Lol at title typo hahahahaha
So far from the poll, it looks like the words can stay, but shorten some of the sentences?


Most Helpful Guy

  • So I asked my girlfriend who knows more about writing theory than I do, and she said that the words themselves are fine, but the sentences are too long; and they're too long because you're trying to explain more than you need - and more than the reader needs to know in this context.

    She said, because there is so much in fantasy to tell the reader, it's important not to over-explain things when it's not relevant yet. She also said this is a mistake that many novice writers make.

    The concrete example is that in the very first sentence:

    "The only thing she learned from her studies with Wizards was the history of the lands through the books that the students were permitted to read, which she was supposed to bring with her to evening service."

    You explain the following things:
    - she learned only the history of the lands
    - these are the only books the students were allowed to read
    - she was supposed to bring the books to evening service

    Out of these points, the first two are NOT relevant in this particular context.

    And that's what makes it seem "too advanced". The sentences lose cohesion due to their length, and they get to this length because they say more than is required at that given frame in time.

    My girlfriend said once this is all removed as per editing the draft, the sentences will become much clearer to read, too.

    • They're actually relevant because the next paragraph explains what happens in Sanctum and the previous paragraph was talking about how much the main character sucked as a Wizard lol, so it was an elaboration off from them. It's a major part of the story. Of course, I didn't expect you to know that because I didn't give you a context for the story. It doesn't seem like they are just because it's a single paragraph.

      But I'll definitely look into shortening them.

    • Show All
    • Show, don't tell

    • So I asked m boyfriend what he thought about what he said, and he said he agreed with her. I think I'm going to rewrite the first chapter and try to 'show' some more.

      I'm used to being able to do that in fiction because I usually write in like... real world senses. College, high school, work places, you, areas that most people already know. He said he thinks I'm struggling with the fantasy part and I should just let it flow.

      SO I'm going to listen to him and your girlfriend and see what I can do make it sound more showy, which will be hard, but I'm up for a challenge. Thanks for the response.

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • The way writing was always explained to me was think of it like a meal. You want a variety of foods in a variety of amounts.

    So I think that if you used some short sentences and some long sentences and some shorter words and some longer words you'd be set.

    Also YA is like targeted at teens. But fantasy written by women is usually relegated to the genre anyway so it doesn't matter.

    • YA is ages 18-35 technically. I was actually going by the literal definition, not the novel definition. There's not really a good definition for the age range I want lol, wish there was though. 'Adult' is just kind of a turnoff for people 18-25 lol.

      BUT, you do have a point. I might just mix it up a bit. I'm just used to using large words and long sentences for descriptive purposes so the reader has a picture in their head. I know I have a tendency to go overboard :/

    • It's totally fine to use long words and sentences just use them to create texture :)

  • You need to shorten your sentences, not because they're too complex, but because they are just terrible run-ons. I have the same problem when I write; you want to get in as much description as you can, really make the scene come alive, but you end up with just a lot of commas, and a sentence, or worse, a series of them, that's hard to read, much like I have exemplified with this sentence.

    • Lol, I don't have any run-ons in my paragraph. Commas are used to separate thoughts. If I took out most of those commas, I'd have incomplete thoughts, in other words, incomplete sentences haha.

    • Well yeah, obviously you'd have to rework the sentences somewhat. The fact that they're grammatically correct the way they are doesn't change that you have three thoughts in one sentence. If you split them up, not only is it easier to read, but it gives you more room to put in bits of description. Plus, it's always good to vary sentence length.

  • I enjoy it. Could you send me a link to the book when the first draft is finished?

  • The only word I didn't understand was deleterious. Otherwise I don't think your word choice is bad at all especially given the subject manner and the target audience. Sentences are a bit long though. Especially your second sentence.

  • I don't know. I hesitate to omit anything when taken out of context. I suppose sentences could be more... concise in shortening. Like:

    The only thing [she] learned from her studies with Wizards was the history of the lands. The books that students were permitted to read were supposed to brought with her to evening service.

  • I like it, but then I tend to write like this myself - I do see how the long sentences can be confusing for people who are not used to it.

  • For an English teacher, you write so many runon sentences, unplaced, and misplaced commas. At what age do you teach English? Because your grammar is awful. No offense; but, it really bugs me that you're an English teacher and make so many mistakes. It really bugs me.

    No. It's not too advanced. Depends on your age range. Middle school students should have no problem reading it. Late elementary school kids could read it, too. My entire 5th grade class was reading Harry Potter.

    Oh. You mean young adults. If teenagers can't keep up with that, then school has utterly failed them. There's, like, one word that they might have to google. No. It's not too advanced.

    • I don't have any run-on sentences. Do you even know how to identify a run-on sentence? Using more than one in a sentence doesn't make it a run-on. I'm just explaining a lot. For it to be a run-on, it would have to be an independent clauses. Those separate clauses dependent. You must never have read anything that was a higher reading level than Harry Potter if you think these are run-on sentences.

      Also, Harry Potter is fairly easy to read. That's a really poor comparison to make especially considering Harry Potter was written for anyone between the ages of 9 and 17. In our district, those books are recommended for students beginning at the 3rd grade.

      In either case, it's a rough draft. You must not know how the writing process works.

    • Show All
    • If 7 year olds read Harry Potter in your district, then you should know easily that a 17 year old is capable of doing the same. You used two words. Deleterious and billet. I assure you, 17 year olds are more than capable of googling the definition.

      I wouldn't have said anything if you didn't say you were an English teacher. I would have just corrected the grammar. But, man, you teach this stuff.

    • Now i feel bad. :( If it helps, i do like the syntax and the story. It's good.

  • Sounds like a interesting story from just that small paragraph

  • The sentences can feel a bit long, but words can rarely be too advanced if it's not something a kid would want to read.

  • I personally don't see any problems

  • It's fine the way it is.


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