I love tackling books written prior to the 1940's. They wrote in a different voice - if that makes any sense at all.


Sadly, I realized that over the years authors have scaled down their depth and their writing styles to accomodate readers. Detailed descriptions of landscapes and well-worded emotional expressions used to form part of our vernacular. Now the echoing blast from a gun gets broken down to mili-seconds and stripped into words - which the editors eventually scratch out.


Do we no longer credit readers with brains? Or has illiteracy ratings guided us to a more depraved grammar in order to make our stories more readable? Or has self-publishing opened the door for writers who would normally not have made it to the shelf?


James Fouche

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Some do indeed.  :)

Stuart, the topic has digressed a tad. Apologies. My first posting was to stress a concern for not writing too dumb (if you pardon the slack way of putting it) and crediting even the most-unschooled (I know this sounds terrible, but there's no other way) reader with a bit of brains. By no means should an author play himself down to a level he doesn't wish to be writing at.


Other than not writing stupid for stupid folk (I'm really letting go) I hoped to create an interesting discussion where fellow authors/ readers could relate how they encourage a non-reader to pick up their book. There is not an author out there who doesn't want someone to read his work.


So, here it is, by writing long prose in a modern slang or drifting on in a poetic style while explaining how a junkie takes ahit, we relay our styles to those who need to read it. By doing so, we get to credit the reader with ample of what he needs to turn the telly off, sit down and read a book. Right you are, if a reader senses that it's not real then the author did not credit the reader accordingly.

Readers are not all the same.  There are huge differences in tastes, levels of education, and genre preferences.  You cannot write for all.  That means you either write for people like yourself, or you make a concerted effort to reach those who are in the greatest numbers.  As an exmple: Evanovich did precisely that.  Most thriller writers do it also.
I agree, Stuart.  We all have distinct styles and voices that we need to remain true to; however, I think that it pays to know your audience's level of tolerance for what they will--and will not--read.  I think good writing, regardless of whether it's long or short prose, is crafted to meet readers' needs, not pander to them---down or up.
I think our chosen genre is part of the issue. We're not writing literary fiction, we're writing crime fiction and many of our end readers expect fast-paced entertainment, spare narrative and succinct dialogue. There are crime writers out there (John Connolly springs to mind) that can make gore sound poetic (oh to write like him) but they are the exception.
Hmm!  I really do not want to write like John Connolly.  Very different audience from mine, myself included.
You're talking subject matter though. His writing, itself, is beautiful, well crafted, lyrical. (He writes a lot of things outside his Charlie Parker series, including YA and newspaper articles).
Connolly and Hamilton are great examples of old meeting new, I guess. They do hit the mark while still well-written and tightly edited. Anyone can read them and feel the story while still understanding it.
Interesting, Tanis, I.J., because I'm seeing the trend among writers like Connolly and Hamilton that's working both sides of the fence--so to speak--and targeting conventional readers of crime fiction plus the YA readers.  Hmmmm.
Good point. I love reading Connolly. James Lee Burke has many of the characteristics you describe, as well. When everyone else shortens sentences and gets staccato for action/violent scenes, Burke spreads them out so they unfold virtually in slow motion, and manages to make them riveting.
Yes, but subject matter and plot can cancel out language for me. I have reservations about Burke also, though in his case I'm prejudiced. Just not fond of the Southern stuff.
Great point, Tanis.  Genre is key, although as you say, some writers ignore genre-specific guidelines for writing a good quick, entertaining read.  On the other hand . . . a writer from the lit fiction crew, like Poe, or Connolly (and I'll add Stephen Hamilton) can be pulled in (today, by YA readers) because of down-to-earth verbiage that has a high literary tone and feel.


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