Saturday, 10 April 2010

Saturday's Writing Quotation Examination

I think the first duty of all art, including fiction of any kind, is to entertain. That is to say, to hold interest. No matter how worthy the message of something, if it's dull, you're just not communicating.
Poul Anderson

I think as novelists, we consider ourselves artists and many claim to be literary writers. Many write poetic lines or use big words in the hopes of sounding brilliant, winning a prize or acclaim. However, if the reader spends more time with their dictionary or on Google or if the reader needs to re-read passages over and over, they aren't really developing attachments to character or plot. Will your story have the same affect if the reader believes you're trying to sound smarter than they are?



Jim Murdoch said...

The danger there is that we will dumb down our writing to pamper to our audience rather than asking them to rise to the challenge. Of course there’s a middle ground and that’s probably the one I like to inhabit as both writer and reader.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Sheesh, I have exactly the opposite problem. Sometimes, I think my style is too simple.

TS Hendrik said...

Agreed. It's not dumbing it down to assure that the characters sound natural. Writing isn't about showing off a vocabulary, it's about creating an atmosphere that draws the reader into your creation.

Anonymous said...

Ann - You bring up a really interesting point here. Writing to sound impressive will likely either confuse the reader, insult the reader, or make one (the author) sound like a snob. On the other hand, readers don't want to be condescended to, either. I think that balance is an important one, and it takes practice. It also matters whether one's audience is adults, YA, children, etc.. I think trying to "see" a story through the reader's eyes (preferably with the help of beta readers) is a useful tool for striking that balance.

Ann Elle Altman said...

I think it's a balance that has to be reached but each writer has to determine who his reader will be.

Thanks everyone for your comments, I read them all.


Natasha said...

That is a tough balance to reach, isn't it? You don't want to sound condescending, but you don't want someone to be constantly out of their depth either. And it is hard to do that specially when you are writing about something you are familiar with.

My story is set in the investment banking world, which I have been a part of for years, but which may be totally new to most people. I have references to technical stuff, for the flavour, but which don't affect the story even if you don't get them. Whether I have succeeded or not, I really don't know.

Great post.
~ Rayna

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