Writing blog by MLR

Might as well write the occasional blog here while I'm working on the novel.

For a while before I started this latest round of edits, I worried a lot about language and flow and things like that, and how to make an interesting story that's also creatively written. I guess one work that really got me thinking about it more than any other is the novel Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell, which I read some unaccounted for number of months back. Now, Karen Russell appears to be extremely good at combining the two -- an interesting storyline with interesting language to tell it -- and at this stage in my career I don't think I have that capability yet. It's a tricky balance to achieve; maybe in my case it will just have to require a helping hand, i.e. an editor, someone with a lot of experience who can guide the work in the direction it should go.

So I'm playing around a lot more with the sentences I write now, and throwing in a lot of oddball moments that don't make perfect sense immediately, but could if you sit back and think about it for a minute, or would eventually later on in the story, and so on. Will this alienate some readers? You bet. The most popular authors tend to write in a very simple, honest, direct style, the kind you can just get sucked into as soon as you start reading. And while that requires its own special talent, I tend to find that it's more fun for me to be deliberately elliptical and obscure from time to time. In which case, yes, I will leave many (maybe even all, who knows) readers behind. But the hope is that some other audience out there will find that experience amusing. I feel I'm allowed to do that, because I don't intend to make a career out of writing, so any profit I eventually might make on this work I kind of see as a surprise.

Anyway, just some thoughts on style I was having. Please feel free to share your own in the comments.

Writing blog


1 June 2015 at 18:13:17 MDT

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    "Simplifying" things for a "wider audience" is how we got the current Star Trek movies as they are. If that makes my point.

    I don't believe in ever simplifying what you say. We should be rising up, not sinking lower.

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      I don't disagree. But there is at least a business decision to be made on the author's part, which is: do I acquiesce to the demands of mainstream publication and dumb down the text so that the widest audience (and hence largest sales) can be reached? Or do I keep it as bizarre and unconventional as I like and risk having to ship the thing around to 70 different publishers/agents before anyone will think it's worth the risk? I'm shooting for the latter, since I really have nothing to lose but time (I have another career path currently lined up), but not everyone has that luxury.