Time to blog about something other than my dogs.
Maya Reynolds did a wonderful post that included an excerpt on writing by John D. MacDonald. These 2 paragraphs are my favorite:
Compulsive diligence is almost enough. But not quite. You have to have a taste for words. Gluttony. You have to want to roll in them. You have to read millions of them written by other people.
You read everything with grinding envy or weary contempt. You save the most contempt for the people who conceal ineptitude with long words, Germanic sentence structure, obtrusive symbols, and no sense of story, pace or character.
I love Jason Evan’s short fiction contests because they allow quick tastes of many different genres and writing styles. My favorite this time was easily Just Another Monday Morning in Hell by Angelique H. Caffrey. It was easy to read and funny – a true short story. I didn’t need a dictionary to understand any of the words and excessive use of a thesaurus wasn’t evident. The writing was crisp and to the point and it all made sense.
Some of the entries didn’t make sense to me. Perhaps if the authors had another 250 or more words to provide additional details it would have helped, but that would have defeated the purpose of the 250 word limit.
Some of the writing was so flowery and long worded it made me wonder if there was any story at all or if the author was just trying to impress us with their vocabulary.
What I liked were the stories that were like Angelique’s – easy to read, easy to understand and interesting. It didn’t matter which genre they represented. What mattered was the writing. Some of them were very well thought out and Jason’s picks reflected this.
Part of this was inspired by Bernita’s post about language. She recommended reading your writing aloud and since I’ve always done this, I thought it was a brilliant suggestion. If you read aloud and it doesn’t make sense or sound like something someone would actually say, you may need to do some editing – or just use my failsafe method – highlight, delete and start again.
Lottery, Look Me in the Eye, Bad Girl, Evermore – all good examples of interesting, easy to read, well paced books in totally different genres. None of them required excessive adjectives of multiple syllables to make them good. In fact, Lottery was one of the simplest yet most moving novels I’ve read in a long time.
So, the point is if people are reading your works with contempt for the long words, Germanic sentence structure, obtrusive symbols, and no sense of story, pace or character, perhaps you should just simplify.
What have you read lately that’s simple yet effective?