Minimalist versus Maximalist Prose

In today’s literary landscape, two writing styles dominate—minimalist and maximalist. What are they?


Minimalist writing is simple and direct with a tight focus on the literary subject. For the most part, it’s devoid of imagery such as similes, metaphors, and personification. Also, minimalist writing doesn’t use backstories. The idea behind such writing is to give readers just enough information to let their imaginations run wild. Minimalists look to write their prose as tightly as possible.

One of the most famous minimalist stories is Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. I read it in the sixth grade. It was easy to follow because of the language’s simplicity. No metaphors, no similes, just sparsely written prose.

Maximalist Writing

Maximalist writers use lots of fancy language that’s full of imagery, backstory, long descriptive passages, lengthy sections of dialogue, and long, complex sentences. They add detail after detail to enlarge their stories.

Interior designers use maximalism to tastefully decorate a home or room in excess. In literature, maximalist authors tastefully write prose in excess. For an example of maximalist prose, read William Faulkner’s book, Absalom, Absalom!

So, which style is right? Either one. It depends on which one an author’s most comfortable with.

How about you. Are you a minimalist or a maximalist?

5 thoughts on “Minimalist versus Maximalist Prose

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.