Monday, April 12, 2010

Stimulate Your Readers With Thoughtful Prose

“. . .give the reader the wealth of detail that makes a novel such a sumptuous treat, but always treat every single paragraph, every line of dialogue, as though it has to be accountable for itself, as though it has to be read aloud and examined as an entity onto itself.” -- Valerie O’Riordan in The Long and Short of It.
I’ve read this advice a number of times in reference to short stories. For works of 5000 words or less, this should be a given for an author. As an editor, I can state with authority it isn’t, unfortunately. The prose suffers from a lack of effort and often falls flat.

For a novel, this seems a daunting task, but one that will make a difference to the reader. I marvel at some of the writing I encounter in the novels I read. Other times, I shake my head in disappointment. Sloppy writing tells me the author is more interested in finishing the project (perhaps due to an impending deadline) than offering the reader stimulating prose.

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