Saturday, December 15, 2012

Talk to Us

Fiction should be special: eloquent, efficient, and edgy; suspenseful, silky, and slim. But as the above sentence demonstrates, too much of a good thing can feel like, well—eating four slices of chocolate mousse cheesecake washed down with a gigantic mug of chocolate malt. It no longer appeals. It’s too rich, too fattening—too much.

Sometimes a basic, serviceable sentence is just what you need, particularly in dialogue or the connections between sentences and scenes. Sometimes it’s better to just say it. Otherwise, you might generate a construction like this:

Where initially the tightly curled nubs of buds, then later on the big, green hands of leaves, and after that the red, juicy, fragrant clusters of fruit decorated the entire tree, now the branches stood bare.

Maybe you should just say “In winter”?

Instead of cleverly trying to insert model T’s, Chanel suits, Charles Lindbergh headlines, or Twitter, might it be reasonable to simply mention the date?

Direct expression beats florid, circuitous language. If every sentence is long and elaborate, if every fact is oblique, and every word resonant, multi-syllabic and striking, how can you emphasize what you need to? How can you be clear yet concise? How can you develop a close, warm relationship with your readers if you relentlessly disseminate imposing messages from a distant peak? To seem real you have to sound real. At least some of the time.

Tip: You don’t want you or your novel to sound like a grocery list. You don’t want to sound like a famous 19th century writer, either.

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