When the prose gets in the way of your story

I often find myself yelling at the screen during certain movies and shows. “Just hold the damn camera still, you moron!” Hand-held cameras that jiggle all over the place make me wonder how a director can afford top-notch stars and special effects but not, apparently, a tripod.

On the other hand, I also sometimes find myself going “Wow, that Kubrick camera movement is wonderful. It’s just so beautiful to see.”

And in some ways, both extremes are bad, because instead of paying attention to the story, I’m seeing the process behind the scenes.

The same is true of fiction. “What’s the big deal if there are a few misspellings or grammatical errors?” someone recently asked me. “Isn’t the story more important?”

Well, sure. But if I am thrown out of the story because of the bad spelling or grammar? That’s the last thing any author wants. I want my readers to be lost in the story to the point where you’re not even consciously thinking “Hey, I’m reading a book right now.”

And just like the movies, it can work against you to go too far in the opposite direction. If you’re trying to show off how clever you are by using words that make people run to the dictionary to figure out your meaning, then you’ve lost them. If you’re so enamored with your flowery writing that your readers are spending their time admiring your poetry instead of caring about your characters, then it’s going to be a lot easier for them to put your book down and not pick it back up again.

Mind you, there are plenty of authors who disagree with me on this point. Maybe it’s just because of the type of books I like to read (and write). When I see the zippers on the monster’s costume, I’m no longer scared.

Don’t let them see the zippers.

One Response

  1. Reblogged this on alkaplan and commented:
    How is your writing?

    Liked by 1 person

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