a weblog for readers and writers

Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Write to Express, Not Impress

One mistake often made by beginning novelists is to add a bit too much flair to the writing. Writers often become intoxicated with their skills, their ability to make music with words, to make magic out of sentences. They riff and conjure magnificent metaphors and before they know it, they’ve been carried away from the story.

And as Alice McDermott likes to say, “beginner” includes everyone. “You’re a beginning novelist every time you start a new novel. You’re discovering it every time over again.

Regardless of your experience and ability, you have to keep your skills in check. The long-distance runner won’t win the race by showing off with quick sprints. The writer must master the craft instead of getting drunk off it.

"Write to express, not impress,” Alice says. “Tell a story, don’t show off literary flair.”

If you tell the story well, the flair will be there.

Learn more about Alice McDermott at her Wiki site.



Anonymous Mohamed Mughal said...

I recently read a review of Orwell's "Animal Farm." The review made the point that the short novel was written in simple prose. It is. And so it follows Eric's axiom to express rather than impress and to not let literary flair obstruct story. But remember, as in the case with "Animal Farm," simple prose can portray and convey complex and meaningful themes as well.
When you write to express rather than impress, you won't have to surrender depth of theme. Orwell didn't.

March 16, 2010  

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