Economy of Words

I’m currently reading two books – one a page-turning thriller, and the other by a literary prize winner. They both have their attractions for me.

One is fast paced with plenty of action and movement. The other MC has taken two chapters to get out of bed (not sure if the POV is intimate 3rd – still learning) and a page to shave. The ‘literary’ author (to use a phrase my father taught me) ‘wants to know the inside of a cat’s a…’.  and everything is analysed and described to the nth degree.

What surfaced this contrast was listening to some music this evening – Anything Goes, Cole Porter. OK the circumstances are different, but he told a whole story about a new relationship in, what – less than 200 words. Now, Sinatra is singing ‘Witchcraft’ – no, not a YA fantasy work!

The diversity of styles in ‘literature’ is broad, but the verbose style, for me, needs a lot of work to read.

Crooners have music as the medium to carry the words, leaving us free to read War and Peace at the same time.

There are different kinds of pleasure to be had from reading. One can be excited, thrilled and awake till 3am finishing the thriller. Or one can read a literary masterpiece and savour 2 or 3 pages at a time, like a good brandy.

On balance though, I prefer economy of words, and don’t enjoy excessive dressing of a scene. Of course, ‘excessive’ is a personal measure – one man’s excess is another man’s paucity.

My own style is…er…contingent. My thrillers are economic with words, but intense with content, and variable pace. Non-fiction is pretty much the same, except where I want the readers to think about the implications of a situation and uncover the precursors for themselves – then I have to trigger a thought and tickle the conclusion into the reader’s conciousness.

Vive la difference!

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