Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Stating the Obvious

In every writing course I attended we were told to write clearly and not to use too many fancy words. That wasn't all we were told, of course. Have something to say and write it in such a way that your readers will understand was the message. Sometimes easier said than done but practice makes for reasonable performance.
I was reminded of this the other day when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they are expecting their third child. Prince Harry was asked by a reporter how he felt and later several newspapers carried the headline "Prince Harry delighted with the news" or words to that effect. I have to ask: did the reporter who asked him how he felt expect him to say "how awful"? And do I really need to see a headline saying he is delighted to learn how he feels?
If I were to write a novel along those lines: main character's brother (or brother-in-law depending on which point of view you want to take) is delighted at prospect of the arrival of third child, I would not have much of a plot. Almost without exception every piece of fiction requires conflict of some kind  to make it interesting to the reader. I wouldn't know what to write if everything was going smoothly in my novels.
We are overloaded with useless - and some useful - information these days. The battle to fill space is a tough one. The news has to be sold instead of being told. 
Having said all that, what can writers learn? What can they avoid? There is so much advice out there for writers that we tend to get lost in it. However, from my own personal experience, I love to read novels which are well-written, have interesting characters that I can relate to, and have a story that grips me from the first page or at least the second chapter at the latest. That's a lot to ask of other writers - and of myself. For me, it means many hours of revision and editing to ensure the story is looking its best. I wouldn't give it up for all the printer ink in the world.

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