Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prose, Plot and Personality


I see things every once in a while about improving prose... I read things from fellow bloggers who ponder every single word. And I LOVE reading a work that holds EXACTLY the right language. But you know what? It's not me.

Oh, don't get me wrong... I PARTICULARLY love a nice double entendre, either to amplify meaning, because innuendo is my favorite thing, or to give double possibility and therefore mystery.

But I can't write literary fiction. I just don't have the personality to think about EVERY WORD... I am more an 'eh, close enough' kind of gal. What I want JUST RIGHT is the STORY.

Now I don't think the two are mutually exclusive, but I think that weaving a plot with a lot of twists and turns is a different animal from choosing really beautiful language, and honestly, with a complicated plot, literary language is just going to stop up and confuse the reader—the mind is already having to jump to keep up with the STORY. Adding language that you have to slow down and savor could easily cause the reader to get LOST.


Pass It On

So I thought maybe I'd share a couple things with you... opportunities, advice, blog recommendations...

Blog Crusade:  nervous as the idea of a crusade makes me, Rachael has a goal of compiling a list of the WRITERS who BLOG to connect us, and that seems an admirable aim.  We have had a ton of it happen around here, organically, but why not add another route, eh?

That in mind, I think I am going to put together a post of all my followers and their blogs... this will take AGES, but then there should be easy reference for my readers to see who else is here and what else they might be interested in.

And the Query Letter Manifesto (and the second part the next day) is a FABULOUS reality check for all you queryers.

27 comments:

Rachael Harrie said...

Hey Hart, great you've come on board my Crusade. Have fun meeting the other followers :)

I've got a little 100th follower prize (sort of) for you in my latest post if you want to check it out ;)

Rach

kimberlyloomis said...

Will check out the links, thanks!

As for literary stuff... I think a lot matters about the plot as well as the language. The Road was literary, the language sophisticated, but in no way did it make the story move slower. Certainly there are some people out there who come off as trying to write at a certain level, but those are people who aren't paying attention to the story and what it needs to succeed. [I'm totally a literary gal at this point. It's driving me batty, but the story requires it of me AND the editing won't be too painful. :) ]

Al said...

And the bonus is popular fiction sells way better :-)

Teresa aka JW said...

Great thoughts and beliefs. If only I could write "perfectly" satisfying everyone. I think the best thought is to write to please self.

Hart Johnson said...

Rachael-YAY for prizes! Sent you an email!

Kimberly-I've decided a ton depends on genre, actually. And I suppose any genre COULD have really elegant prose, but there is the competing matter of VOICE and so any word level stuff I do, aside from my standard adverbectomy and strengthening verbs, and suddenly it is no longer a NATURAL voice. I feel like a poser, and who needs a naked poser!? *shifty*

Al-it's true--not unrelated to genre, but true nevertheless--thrillers are nearly never literary...

Teresa--wouldn't it be nice? And you said it exactly...and if it doesn't sound like me, then I am NOT pleased... unless I sounded like a dead Russian... that would be good... though I probably couldn't get published anymore...

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm totally with you on the story. I write genre, so story and characters rank much higher than fancy words. Double entendres rock!

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

oooh yeah, i'm totally with you there. If something fancy works its way in, great! But i'm not going to go out of my way to try and force it in

Ketutar said...

I am sick as a dog (poor dog :-() so I can't write much, but I started thinking about the need of being good at everything. It's not enough anymore to just have interesting characters and good writing, you have to be a master of words, plots, and everything else there is to writing... And also, be able to write several different things, like articles, poetry and science fiction, and then be good at marketing yourself... Or at least this is what one is told everywhere...

I admire the people who are good with words and find the perfect way of saying what they mean, but I doubt I'm one of them. :-D

LTM said...

you + me = SAME person!!! How is that possible...? Okay, you know there are differences, but as for the writing, it's too true. I used to say I've got undiagnosed ADD. I want things to MOVE. But crafting that exact right exchange in a scene or story arc... Yesss!!!! :D

OK--back to work for me~ <3

Hart Johnson said...

Carole-my stuff, while I cross some genres, is all genre-ish, too, so that is definitely part of it.

Sarah-I think that really was what I was trying to get at... no forcing it!

Ketutar-I really believe being great at a COUPLE, rather than all, should do it (and will, if you can find the strand that goes that way)

Leigh *snickers* Maybe that is it, though with me I think it's memory--if I have to stop to figure out what the WORDS mean, or take in too much description, I forget where the STORY was.

Cold As Heaven said...

I think it's fun to play around with words and try to make it nice and elegant ... but it means the progress is slow >:)

Cold As Heaven

Holly Ruggiero said...

I get excited if something comes out perfectly, the words just right, but I don't stress over it if it doesn't. If I keep reading I consider that a success.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I definitely don't write literary fiction! I can keep up with reading it, but I read to relax and enjoy, not task my brain.

Hart Johnson said...

CaH--I like that here and there. I just can't do it all the way through.

Holly-that is more me, too... fabulous if it's just right... willing to think on it if it is an important section, but, yeah... mostly more important that it is NATURAL.

Alex-EXACTLY! Literary stuff is really nice if I have the time to just sit down with a book, but who does? Mostly I read to escape!

Patricia Stoltey said...

What a good idea to post about our followers. I love my gang, so giving them a post of recognition makes good sense. Thanks for the inspiration!

Ellen said...

I'm missing out, first naked then crusades~ I
totally agree with your post. Pretty prose is nice, but it can play twisting mind tricks on the torched brain and take away from the storyline!

Reading to escape is a dream; The best, love it~

Lisa said...

I think I share your writing style preferences. I met a writer last night at our NaNoWriMo interest meeting who writes literary fiction and I can't wait to read some of her work, but I just don't have that kind of ability for storytelling.

Thanks for those links. One day I feel overloaded on info, the next day, I'm following link after link. And I never know when I turn on my computer what kind of day it's going to be.

Clarissa Draper said...

I agree. Some are good at prose and some aren't. I know I'm not one of those who are. I joined the crusade as well.

CD

RosieC said...

So true about plot v. prose. I don't think that way, either, and it's killing me in my writing class right now. Yeah, the first day we were told she would accept nothing but literary fiction. But, with every struggle comes a victory. The question is whether or not it will be mine :) I like READING literary fiction--sometimes--but it takes a lot out of me to write that way, that's for sure.

Thanks for the links :)

Hart Johnson said...

Patricia-I was sort of surprised it hadn't occurred to me before--glad you plan on it, too!

Ellie-JOIN IT ALL!!!

Lisa-I can't even IMAGINE trying to write literary in a NaNo! I don't even get most of my PLOT in there!

Clarissa-Yeah, not my strong suit either, obviously... that is why I resort to nudity and innuendo...

Rosie-Oi! I hear you on a class! And that doesn't even allow you the time to let it SIT before you rewrite! I so couldn't do that!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I agree with you and think the story is more important than the language, though I like playing around with words.

How nice to recognize your followers, though it does sound like quite the undertaking.

Helena said...

Personally, I try to go for a more polished writing style. But a writer's main job is to tell a story! Someone like Lee Child writes superb thrillers because he trims his prose down until only the story shines through. And ya know what? In polls readers always cite the STORY as being most important to them, not lots of pretty words.

Adina West said...

Fellow Crusader saying hi, Hart!

I mostly write genre stuff, and I couldn't agree with you more about twisty turny plots needing a nice clean approach without too many excess words. With somewhere around 80,000 - 100,000 words to tell the story there really isn't that much space for flights of literary fancy in the average genre novel.

I tend to think of each scene as having a job to do; express this or that character conflict, inform the reader of problem X, reveal dastardly plot Y...and any poetic language which sneaks in from time to time tends to be no more than a couple of lines here and there!

Have to say though, I've often seen agent websites mentioning they'd like to see 'literary' fiction with commercial plotting. I think that goes to show that it's really not all that common for the two to come together, and when they do, a book tends to do pretty well. Something for us all to aspire to, if it's an option...

Missed Periods said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Missed Periods said...

Sorry, I just wrote nonsense and had to delete it. What I meant to write was that I would love to write literary fiction, but I just don't know if I am that kind of girl.

RosieC said...

No, it really doesn't. I need to get my ass in gear and rewrite my story 1 and get going on my story 2 for the class before NaNo, but nothing's going to save me for story 3, I'm afraid. *shrug* I'll be happy in this class with a mediocre grade, though, since it's pushing me so beyond my normal scope. I don't expect to be an expert at it in 14 weeks.

Karen Peterson said...

I'm with you. I would much rather fret about getting the story right than the words.