Tuesday, April 23, 2013

new writing paradigm?

I read an interesting how-to-write book recently (which I'll blog more about later). The author opined that in the twenty-first century authors have to combine all the best elements of genre and literary fiction to be successful. You must create a great story that also has beautiful writing. Essentially, this is a new writing paradigm. Authors have to do it all.

A great story involves a compelling external plot with lots of twists and turns and which is linked inextricably with the protagonist's emotions and internal journey. In essence, a great story enables the reader to achieve a new understanding of what it means to be human.

Beautiful writing doesn't just mean pretty imagery and descriptions and lots of similes and metaphors, it also means all that stuff you studied in English class: symbols, parallels, reversals and all the rest. Thus, beautiful writing engages our intellect on both a conscious and subconscious level.

Wow! This is a lot for authors to live up to.

What do you think? Is it time for a new writing paradigm?


  1. I disagree completely, Lesley. In the past year, I've read at least 10-15 books (some of which I didn't finish because they were a waste of my time) that were not well-written, yet were best-sellers or, at least, had an interesting enough premise to persuade me to buy them. They were far from "literary," but they all did have one common element: plotting that pulled the reader along. I used "pulled" deliberately because in many instances, there was little initial character development and even less time in the story arc to understand the reasons the protagonist acted the way s/he did. The author hurried on insistently to the last page, often without pause, perhaps even thought, regarding the logical delivery of a theme or development of a philosophical point so essential to true literary works, as if to prove that the mere completion of a story is an end in itself. I did finish most of those books, but in every case, I also huffed at the poor writing quality -- excess verbiage, sloppy sentence structure, shallow vocabulary, etc. Really, I am amazed that craft mediocrity so outsells talent. Perhaps the real question is not about the writing, but the readership paradigm.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, RenataH!
    I am intrigued with your comments. What I'm gleaning from them is we haven't yet achieved a new writing paradigm, but we need to. :) We need a compelling plot AND beautiful literary-quality writing. It's tough to do all that!
    If you have any tips for achieving this literary nirvana, my critique group has openings! :)