I am currently reading two books, one written by an indie author, and one by a more mainstream writer. I will name neither, as it is not important for the context of this post. Why? Because the comparisons I can draw are not limited to these two texts, but rather they confirm something I have noticed across the writing range.
There is a fundamental change it would seem in writing, a change that caters towards the laziness that is sweeping through modern society. It is a change that panders to lazy readers, who want to read, but want to have to do no work in order to enjoy it. Of course, reading should be as easy on the eyes as a the Swedish beach volleyball team, but there is a difference between easy reading and lazy reading. This brings us nicely to the point of my post.
I know that there are going to be examples to disprove my hypothesis, but are there not always such articles?
Description is all well and good, a necessary part of writing. How could we ever hope to set the scene without describing anything. Even movie scripts give some allure to the tone of the scene. However, overkill is a sweeping epidemic that I have noticed, not just in indie writers, but across the published world. Even certain magazines that I read from time to time seem to have taken to describing everything in a much finer level of detail.
This may all be well and good, but I feel that, as a reader, I don’t want to have every single aspect of a scene laid out before me. I like to be able to conjure my own scene. That is what sets books apart from movies, the ability to add small personal aspects and perspectives to things, to bring the story to life in a way that means more to us than it may to the person reading the same book three rows back on the bus to work.
Prose can be flowing, rich in context and structure and still leave more than enough room for a readers’ personal interpretation of the scene. Similarly, a scene can be described with a dull, military clarity and leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. A case in point is the scene I have just finished reading, in which we are introduced to a new character. A male, and the author goes to such lengths to describe the character, talking about the curve of his brow, the rise and roll of the folds when he scowled, the shape of his eyes; their exact color and hue, their position on his face, etc. In short, it was too much, the image was made so clear that it lost all focus. Why? Because I no longer had to work for it.
Readers should not expect to have everything in a novel served up to them on a silver platter, with written instructions included for those still too lazy to think. Writing is not a passive event, it should be active, and we as writers should certainly not pander to the demands of such an attitude.
Of course, a reader is only going to read what is put before them, and so to lay the blame at their feet is certainly not my intention. At the end of the day, writers, and the people who pull their strings, the publishers, the agents, etc. They are the people who make the choices, set the trends and in all eventuality, lower the expectation of readers to the point where, they become expectant of such workmanship.
Readers could play a part, and ensure that their voices are heard in the form of reviews and across discussions forums, but the only way to solve the problem, it to go to the source. To ensure that writers’ are made accountable for this trend, and are educated in sufficient ways to ensure that it stops.