Parry Purple Prose . . . or Learn how to Speed Read in less than 5 seconds!

Pick a novel, any novel.

Now I’m going to teach you a little trick I discovered myself years ago, and it takes less than 5 seconds to learn the ‘secret technique’ of its single enlightening sentence.

Ready?

Read only the first sentence of every paragraph . . . and also all dialogue.

BAM!

Now you know how to speed read.

But let’s extrapolate on why and how it works, shall we?

This secret technique works because the first sentence of a paragraph is the main point of the paragraph. Every sentence which follows expands upon that first sentence.

And dialogue (at least in well written novels by competent authors) contains pertinent information to the story or the characters involved otherwise there’s no reason for it to exist, because the point of dialogue is to present relevant information to the reader about either story-surface plot or underlying-character development.

A good indication of bad writing, by the by, is to peruse some dialogue when you’re deciding to buy a novel to read. If characters are talking about nothing that moves the story or any character relationships forward, are Hello’ing and Goodbye’ing all over the place, or there’s no subtle nuances of gestures happening during the exchanges of speech then you should buy a different novel to read.

Consider modern movies a moment. When was the last time you remember someone on screen answer their phone with a Hello then end the conversation with Goodbye? Exactly. These are unimportant to the story and the characters involved so producers have learned to cut them out to make space for more relevant information elsewhere (along with lots of other little editing cuts because all of those seconds add up to minutes better used to present the audience plot and character development).

My secret technique also helps you avoid the dreaded purple prose.

And what’s purple prose?

Extraneous description that is too elaborate or ornate while presenting little if any relevant information to the reader.

Meaning?

Let’s lead by example:

He moved slowly, at length, and carefully on tip toes through the dark room with an entirely unnecessary gaze trained on the red, wooden front door beckoning him closer, inch by creeping inch.

Yuck!

And better summed:

He crept toward the door.

Now don’t get me wrong because not all prose is slathered in purple dread. Often it’s lyrical and poetic while crisping your imagination to vivid detail. But let’s not lose track of our focal point.

The average reader reads at 300 words per minute.

The average paperback novel (depending on trim size of mass market or trade, font and margins employed, paragraph breaks and dialogue length, white space, blah blah blah . . .) contains 300 words per page.

So considering all the various options we put into a blender then pour out we get an estimated 1 page for 1 minute of reading time (this also provides a good indication as to how long a standard paperback novel takes to read: 300 pages = 300 obvious minutes).

But my speed reading secret technique cuts that time by a factor of 10 (an estimated 10 pages for 1 minute of reading; 300 pages = 30 minutes . . . or even less once you grow accustomed to it).

Now, I don’t normally read this way because I enjoy reading . . . though sometimes you strike that boring novel in the middle of a beloved series which is obvious filler and fluff because the author is padding their novel with purple prose to their publisher’s expected word count, and you just want to get through it so you can move on to the next and better novel. Sure you’ll miss some minor details speed reading this way, but I guarantee you’ll still retain the overall important gist of the story.

Don’t believe me?

You and a friend choose an unread novel. Have your friend read it as normal while you speed read it using my secret technique. Now both of you write down a summary of the story you just read on a single sheet of paper each, exchange papers then compare and you’ll discover other than some minor details that both of your summaries are the same. Only it took your friend multiple hours to read the same novel that it took you to read in about 20 or so minutes (if we’re talking a standard paperback, mind, because as porn stars can attest to: size matters, baby).

You see, all that crap you’ve watched or heard about people running their fingers down the page in about 2 seconds while ‘speed reading’ every word of an entire book in 5 minutes is nothing more than a lie used to sell you expensive speed reading programs. As well science has already proven that it’s impossible for the human mind to actually speed read in such a way let alone retain the information.

That’s because my secret technique is the real way to speed read.

Do I recommend reading for leisure this way?

No, bitches!

Reading is fun and you should enjoy every minute of it. Especially so if you’re a writer because the more you read the more your writing improves. If I had to advise an aspiring author to spend one year writing every day but no reading or spend the year reading every day but no writing I would advise the latter every time.

But if you hit a slog of a novel, or even a slog of a chapter in an otherwise good novel, then you can apply my secret technique and instead of trudging through it while regretting your time you’ll actually enjoy yourself while still retaining the overall gist of the story and the characters involved.

My secret technique works great for the aspiring author seeking a fast track to learning and understanding plot, too. Sit with a handful of novels, as well a pen and notebook beside you, spend the next couple of hours speed reading all the novels you chose and after finishing each one write down a couple paragraphs about the overall story. You will notice that what you remember most and write about are the important plot points involved.

My secret technique also works great for lazy students who hate reading and are assigned a novel to read but put it off until the last minute.

Again, I do not recommend always reading this way, but the process of my secret technique provides you a valuable tool for learning as a writer. It also helps you as a reader to continue reading instead of setting aside a terrible novel.

So the next time you read a novel but a chapter or two in you pause and think, ‘Ugh, this is pretty bad”, say screw it, apply my secret speed reading technique and breeze through it.

Just remember:

Read only the first sentence of every paragraph . . . and also all dialogue.

You’re welcome!

ADRONJSMITLEY.BLOGSPOT.COM

ON WRITING WELL: Everything the aspiring author needs to know on plot, character, and dramatic story structure architecture! Amazon: $2.99 digital, $9.99 paperback, or FREE with Kindle Unlimited!
VEILFALL: a time-traveling love story with lots of magic and killing, and the first novel in the award-winning and best-selling epic fantasy Soothsayer Series! (353,000 words long) Amazon: $2.99 digital, $11.99 paperback, or FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

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Blog for writers on everything plot, character, and story structure architecture at: adronjsmitley.blogspot.com

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Adron J. Smitley

Blog for writers on everything plot, character, and story structure architecture at: adronjsmitley.blogspot.com