Trust Your Prose

One of my favorite pastimes is to read the “New York Times Book Review” to glean tips from reviewers about “good writing.” In the June 10, 2012, “Review” is an excellent piece by Andre Dubus III, in high praise of Richard Ford’s novel “Canada”–which I’ve now GOT TO READ. (And maybe I’ll include it in my Book Recommendations.) And now to the point of this post: Dubus says, “… as is so often the case with the fiction of Richard Ford, what actually happens in the story feels secondary, or at best equal, to the language itself. In the hands of a lesser writer, this can create problems: the prose begins to feel self-indulgent, written not to illuminate any truths but to please the writer, and in the process, story itself is lost and the reader is left behind.” In the case of my writing, I translate Dubus’ point as follows: Paul, keep yourself out of the prose (no showing off those way-cool metaphors); trust your prose (KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid) to plainly reveal the characters and the story. For me, trusting in my prose is the hard part, and I need to constantly remind myself to have faith in my style, but the very positive and supportive feedback I’m getting from readers is helping me do just that.

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