The more I read, the more I develop my own sense of writing aesthetic. And the more I read, the more I come to see that my own style is ascetic. You see, I have no patience for overt rhetoric and florid language because I deem such devices to be impure and the mark of an amateur. I have already touched on how just about anybody can be “descriptive as hell,” and it is a sentiment that has become a core part of my approach to writing a novel.
I find intense details suspicious in stories. I prefer for the stories to be told by the characters rather than the narrators. Overtly descriptive writing breaks the illusion that I am in the world the piece is set in. It seems paradoxical, to be sure. After all, how can you be engrossed in a worldthat is bland? But I believe that actions speak louder than words, and that talk is cheap. I’m not interested in a writer’s ability to play with language and to create lyrical and poetic sentences. If I wanted to read that sort of thing, I’d read a poem. When I read prose — whether it is short fiction or a novel — I want to know what happens. A writer’s rhetoric merely gets in the way of me discovering for myself what the characters’ and the world they inhabit are like. I do not want to read a writer’s description because I want to form my own conclusions. A woman’s flowing white dress is angelic enough when it is blowing in the wind: I needn’t be reminded that the author wants me to believe that she is angelic.
Another realization tha t just occurred to me is that I am writing the sort of novel that I would be interested in reading. There is a danger in this sort of thinking. Because I regard my own creative instincts to be superior to what misguided advice is offered to writers, I am at risk of losing sight of what is truly good writing: I am at risk of becoming obsessed with my own style and standards and losing touch with what the literary community regards as good writing. Thus I must always remember to balance my own insular views with a touch of the real world. Otherwise, I’ll end up like all those other self-published authors who treasure their own little Espresso Book Machine creations, crying over how they are merely misunderstood or underappreciated.