This post is kind of a continuation of what I was talking about yesterday: the four things I’ve learned about novel writing. But I feel the need to expound a little more on one of the topics.
I remember in the past when I tried to write, I would become very frustrated because when I re-read what I wrote, I didn’t sound like Faulkner. My vocabulary sounded unsophisticated, my descriptions were weak, and my metaphors were tired.
I wanted to sound important! I wanted to sound sophisticated! I wanted to sound like Alexander Pope, or John Milton and all those other authors I studied as an English major undergrad. I wanted to sound pretentious!
The other day I was reading several reviews of a novel by a certain author. Review after review mentioned how the language was “thick” and “hard to wade through” and the author would go on for paragraph after paragraph with elegant descriptions without saying much of anything.
In other words I WANTED TO SOUND LIKE THAT! I wanted to say nothing with a lot of words!
Boy, have I changed, and I think the main reason I’ve changed in my outlook about writing is that I’m finally comfortable with who I am and what I want to say.
I no longer want to sound pretentious. I want to sound real. I want to be real. I want to write with heart. I want to bring emotion to the surface. I want to build intensity and purpose into plot. I want to say something about the human condition, and I want to do it in a way that is open, honest, and simple. I want readers to say that when my novel ended, they wanted more.
One of the best reviews I have ever received was when a reviewer said that the beauty of my writing is in its simplicity. If that’s the case, I’ve accomplished my goal.
A story is a simple yet elegant matter. Why mess it up with a bunch of pretentious sounding words?