RARA-AVIS: "transparent" prose

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 17 Jan 2002

>I know what you're talking about. And there are authors whose >sentences I
>stop and reread because they get something so right or >state it so
>eloquently. However, is this necessarily a good thing? >Isn't there
>something to be said for transparent prose, writing that >calls no
>attention to itself, so it never gets between you and the >story?
>Obviously, bad writing gets between you and the story in >another way.

Oh, sure, it takes all kinds. I know I was even recently thinking of an author I liked for just that reason though of course I can't remember who it was at the moment. Just for me personally, though, these writers are probably less likely to be among my favorites - unless they write really amazing dialogue or characters or something else that makes them stand out.

Talking about writing that gets between you and the story - I recently read Dean Koontz for the first time ("Fear Nothing" - elements of HB as well as horror and sci-fi, so I'm somewhat on topic). I thought there were a lot of individual passages in the book that were very funny or clever or had very original metaphors, but these ended up working against the story for me rather than with it. I got the impression of someone who was the cleverest kid in his creative writing class 30 years ago (he's been around at least that long) but had never bothered to get any better or create a coherent style out of all these elements. After a while I was thinking "stop being so clever and just tell the story" - though there are plenty of individual passages I could have singled out for praise, the ultimate effect was just to take me out of the story (and I should say there were some pretty bad passages as well). I don't know how representative this is of Koontz's stuff.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 17 Jan 2002 EST