Do you prefer complex or simple writing styles?

Hello again, this time I have a question related to writing.

As I am a writer first and a cog “fan” second, most of my worries fall into being able to convey a story through what I call “aesthetically” pleasing writing style. That, however, is very hard for me to do as English is not my first language and there’s sentence structures or even simple ways of saying something that could never come across my mind.
I‘m often jealous of other authors, especially those on here who have such beautifully crafted prose, hoping that one day I could be like them. (All in friendly spirit, of course)

So my question is, is it okay to have a simple writing style? Do you find yourself less engaged or even not wanting to play the game at all if it’s not pleasing to the eyes?
Opinions welcome. :slightly_smiling_face:


Honestly I think it’s less about what people prefer - you cannot please everyone. It’s about finding your own style, then practicing, practicing, practicing until you better it.
English is not my native language either, but the only way to improve is to keep writing.


Writing is hard work. My advice is to do what is intuitive for you. If the simple writing style works better for you, go for it. My impression is that readers generally prefer something more prose-heavy, but this really varies by reader, and there’s no point doing that if you’re not comfortable with it.

The Great Tournament uses a writing style which is lighter on description and words, and it has done pretty well. So simple writing styles can still find an audience somewhere.


Prose is difficult. Time consuming. Hair pull inducing and all around extremely subjective. The best prose you can do is really just the one you can consistently keep up and write a good deal of. Simple or complicated. Doesn’t matter if you cannot maintain that style for the entire book unless there’s a sudden reason to change styles.

But in terms of personal preference I do prefer more complex writing. Less imagining I have to fill in and thus easier to end up watching the book like it’s a movie.


Writing styles are very unique to the individual and the reality is that some people are going to enjoy simplicity more and some people are going to prefer something more expressive. I don’t think writing style is something to be overly concerned by, but it’s definitely something that can be worked on and developed and I’m sure that’s something that will happen naturally, as you continue to write more.
Personally, I find that it depends on the story I’m reading and the content of it, some stories can benefit from a more simple writing style and a lot of people will prefer something that’s to the point and too much ‘aesthetically pleasing’ writing could actually result in some players losing their immersion and not following the story so well, whereas other stories would perhaps benefit from more expressive writing, as some players could find that it makes them feel more immersed within the story.
Point is it’s perfectly fine to have a simple writing style and a lot of people actually prefer it, but if you want to pursue a more ‘aesthetically pleasing’ writing style that’s something that is completely possible for you to achieve. Besides learning a new language is hard so I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself and I’m sure that if people with english as their first language, who are confident in their writing style in english were to learn how to write in a new language they would definitely struggle and have to work on their writing a lot, as it is not an easy task to do so.


“Aesthetically pleasing” writing would, for me, mean that the layout looks balanced and paragraphs aren’t falling on their face. :stuck_out_tongue: Impossible to get when user can change the window/font size though, sadly.

The particular style means less to me than whether or not I enjoy the story, really. As long as the narration isn’t rambling too much on irrelevant tangents.


A too complex writing style can be a big detriment for me. Too flowery prose and I get frustrated. Someone using a dozen words where they could have used six without losing anything just makes me scream at them to get to the point.

There is obviously a balance to be struck and too stripped back a writing style is just as bad, but I’d usually lean on the side of simpler writing style. The most important part though is to simply write how you feel comfortable. If you feel like your English writing could use some polish, well, you’ve come to the right place. Write something and I’m sure people will be willing to give you feedback on it.


I wouldn’t use the word “simple” for my personal preference, but concise. They aren’t the same, and being able to keep things brief but informative, engaging and polished is an art in itself. It’s also the style best suited for a text game, imo.


Nothing wrong with taking a simple approach to start if that’s how you feel comfortable. It takes time to learn how to communicate fluently, even in languages we hear from birth. And even the people with the most beautiful prose are struggling and working hard to achieve that effect.

Personally, I like to think of style as just another tool used in telling a story. Some narratives benefit from dwelling on gorgeous aesthetics, while others are better told in simple terms. I rarely stop reading something just because I don’t click with the style alone.

So I’d encourage you to practice and experiment with what you like best. Then show people the parts you feel comfortable with, get their feedback, and incorporate it into your next project. There’s all skill levels here, so you’re in good company!


Personally, I enjoy any writing style as long as it fits the story, makes sense while I’m reading it, and has enough detail for me to visualize what’s happening.

For example, my favorite series is The Murderbot Diaries. It’s a first-person POV of someone who wasn’t well educated, and the story has a strong emotional core. This allows the author to get away with things like the narrator forgetting/misusing words, avoiding thinking about upsetting things, and only giving enough detail to let the reader know what’s happening in the moment. The result is a focused and fast-paced story that doesn’t suffer from a lack of detail.

I think this style of narration is really good for games because it lets the player “fill in the blanks” and focus on their own actions.


I suppose it depends if we are talking minimalism or purple prose. Most writing in general is written at the 6th grade level. Whatever you do, keep it consistent, with a clear voice. Considering the length of recent COG entries, you’ll want it to be natural. Perhaps you should do a draft in your native tongue and reconsider? My vote is for BLUF minimalism considering the modern audience’s attention span.

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Yes. Absolutely. And honestly, I think for the most part the publishing industry, such as it is, and most readers, prefer simpler prose styles.

That said, I aim for more complex writing myself - can’t say I always succeed and I’m sure there are times I sacrifice understandability for aesthetics . . . but there is something absolutely gorgeous and primal about a talented, poetic writer at their best. For example, I adore writer’s like Robert Howard and Leigh Bracket that could charge so much emotional power into their pen that upon reading it your hair nearly stands on end and you feel a burst of adrenaline. And then there are very poetic and artsy writers like perhaps Morison where symbology is crawling all over so many pages in all its poetic glory.

That all said, however, to the average reader, I think most are happy for a simpler writing style. Many readers are tired from their real-world activities. Complex writing requires a lot more reading energy - there is beauty in simplicity, and for many readers, this is really all they want.

But in the end, I’d easily say there is room for all writing styles. You’re never going to enchant 100% of the potential audience . . . but that’s okay. If only 1 out 10 people read my writing and think “Oh, this is great!” that still adds up to an amazing amount of pleased readers, and what more can a writer ask for than that?

Good point - the genre, viewpoint character, and setting may all play a part. They don’t necessarily have to, but they can. A younger character might have simpler sentences. A character in a city setting might use more slang. The Girl with All the Gifts had a very special young person as a viewpoint character which helped further the dichotomy of the story and increased the feelings of drama and supernatural menace inherent throughout the larger work largely due to how sweet and innocent, she, the viewpoint character, seemed. For my own WIP, Sense & Sorcery I try to use regency era appropriate word choices and pay heed to the way they spoke and wrote back then (again, can’t say I always succeed in the effort, but that is my goal on that at least.) On my other WIP, Dice & Dungeon Masters, I am free to use gamer jargon and contemporary phrases to my heart’s content. I don’t feel like either WIP is inherently better than the other, writing wise or otherwise, only different.

Once more, plenty of room for all sorts of styles.