I’ve always liked stationery, but I much prefer convenience. The modern age affords us the ability to tinker away on our texts with next to no cost, until we’ve chiselled our lunk-headed thoughts into beautifully constructed prose. All the extraneous words, punctuation and formatting lie around the base of the finished work, chipped away as we sculpted – well, maybe not David, but at least a very nice email to HR. Continue reading
Who would ever want to interview an unknown author? Nobody! With that in mind I thought I’d interview myself, so a couple of weeks back a wrote a script and set about shooting it. Unfortunately, my delivery was very stilted and the sound was terrible, so (with the exception of the screengrab above) the video will never see the light of day.
I cut a few corners too (that’s how the sound ended up so bad), and the end result didn’t have the same feel as what I’d written. I thought, ‘Ho-hum,’ and moved on.
Then it occurred to me the other day that the script does capture exactly what I wanted to say, so to that end I’m sharing it with you here:
When I set out to write my first novel, Ephialtes, one of the many things I had to consider was style. This is how I approached it.
I don’t like writing that feels ‘writerly’. It seems to me there is no need to over egg every sentence, or to describe in depth every little thing a character is thinking, feeling or wearing. To me that seems fake, and suggests the author is trying too hard.
With that in mind I made a conscious decision to imagine my story and then simply describe what I had imagined. I wanted to convey these imaginings as clearly as possible. I strived for clarity and didn’t consider a conscious style at all.
This isn’t to say that style is unimportant. It is. However, it’s one of those things like accents – you can’t hear your own, but everybody has one. And like an accent, it will sound dreadful if you try to fake it. By strenuously avoiding a deliberate style I hope that my style, whatever it is, will be there on the page. I’m sure I must have a way of constructing sentences, scenes or stories that seems unremarkable to me, where it might seem distinct or noteworthy to someone else. And if not, at least I hope I have written clearly.
Apart from specific instances (where you want to create mystery or ambiguity for plot reasons) I can see no value in confusing the reader. To me, that is just bad writing. You could kid yourself that you’re deep and arty, but if you’re such a damned hot shot you should be able to communicate with precision and clarity – that is what good writing is.
Sadly, this isn’t to say that I made a total success of it. Like most people I fall easily to waffling, and I’m sure there are many passages in Ephialtes that contradict what I’ve said above. It’s what I tried to do though, and I think it was worth aiming for.