As I’m moving another bundle of Indies to review, I find myself realizing how great so many new authors write. To me, several of the Indie books I’ve read/reviewed stand well with Bestsellers when it comes to creating a smooth, almost effortless read, and bring in the cliffhangers at just the right times to prevent boredom.
Editors usually say different writers have different strengths and weaknesses, so it makes sense to the new author to write more of what you’re better at. Some writers, like myself, move the plot with dialogue, while others use prose for most of the storytelling.
Besides learning the obvious that writing is much harder than it looks, I realized early as a new author that good prose is difficult. Keep it smooth. No adverbs. Not too many run-on sentences. No ellipses (my favorite editor’s ire…I love them!). Use active voice. Use thorough descriptions of the person, place, and time. What do they smell? What do they eat? Are they shaking in fear, silent in shock, or leaping with excitement? Do others notice them? What are they wearing? (Another favorite of mine, hey, as a woman, fashion counts, even in medieval dark fantasy!).
When I run across great prose I notice it by not noticing it. Before you write me off as stupid by saying (writing) this, think about your favorite fiction books. The reader absorbs the backdrop, without lumbering over words and re-reading to understand the story. Once the book is closed, you feel like you’ve been to that faraway place, returning to the routine of reality.
I’m a dialogue person. Some things can’t be helped. I love to read dialogue, so I like to write it. Whether it’s the constant bickering between Shevata and Zermon, or the exposure of Shevata’s brutal side to her enemies, the story is told by the characters’ speech and immediate actions. Well, they are action stories so to an extent it makes sense. When I finish reading a book, the prose I remember generally, but it’s the dialogue quotes that I recall verbatim.
I hope to develop more prose in my future books. Editors recommend a good dialogue/prose balance, which I think is good advice. But, as writers, we invent ourselves and part of the creativity is inventing our own style of storytelling. So I’m dialogue heavy, and others are prose heavy. That’s OK. If all authors wrote in the same style, what a boring world we would have!
New authors, go forth, and continue to teach me about good prose. I appreciate their talent, while I continue my dialogue as my favorite creative method. “Different strokes for different folks,” and my hat’s off to those who excel in prose, and have my friendly prose envy.