I follow and am followed by a number of indie writers on Twitter. Occasionally when a new one appears on my list of followers, I’ll go to their website to investigate. Sometimes I find something intriguing. But to be honest, it’s almost never the writing.
Here’s the problem. I’ll use myself as an example. When I first started writing, all the things I loved about writing and all the writers I loved, I perceived to be using all of this eloquent descriptive language. The way we interpret it as readers is as a telling of what happens in the story.
But the real way it works is that the writer makes us as readers see the unfolding of the story. Then when we have to formulate it into words, we tell it to ourselves or to others. We summarize the events of the story which are contained in pictures in our heads. The writer did something very clever. The writer came up with words that allowed our brains to imagine a visual story. These written words slipped past our conscious minds and activated our subconsciouses. That’s where dreams happen and it’s also where the fictive dream happens.
The lure of beautiful language distracts the reader in us, the reporter of written stories we’ve seen, and makes us think that it’s all about the shiny, showy surface. But actually, that surface is what can prevent writing from working. This is a hard lesson to learn, because as readers, it’s utterly unnatural. What writers have to do is create pictures with words. Then readers turn them into that eloquent summary in their heads, but only after they watch your story unfold.
Exposition is the language of readers. A writer’s language is best when it disappears. That’s the zen of it.