Here’s a writer’s pitfall that Dan Barden warned us of recently.
But he’s too late. I’ve already seen the bottom.
We read books. We devour them and we walk away with the feeling of how great it was, how complex and moving the narrative was and how you felt like you were there – in that amazing world with those wonderful, crazy, convoluted characters. We are so in love.
And we want our books to do that to readers.
So as writers that is what we attempt to write. We attempt highly crafted, supremely well-wrought prose that will give the reader a complex and moving narrative…writing that will draw our reader in with its shear brawn.
But here’s the thing.
Look back at your favorite books. Just open them to the first page and start reading. What do you see? The prose is shockingly simple and straightforward, isn’t it? But wait…what about your memory of the story? What about…
The brutal fact is that your brain did that, not the author. This is what our brains do with story. Our brains fire all kinds of chemicals and jump all manner of synapse so that what we remember are not the words on the page, not the writing, but how we felt as we consumed them. What our brains did with the story. No one can write that.
So don’t try to. Don’t try to write the effect. Write the machinery that will produce the effect*.
Leave the rest to the reader’s brain. It will take it from there.
*See my post from 11 February 2015.