The key to strong literary prose
How to make your literary writing sing
Good literary fiction is built on beautiful prose and unique style. This newsletter delves into what makes prose literary gold and how you can ensure your sentences sing.
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MASTERCLASS: Strong literary prose (FREE for members)
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The line between ‘beautiful’ and ‘overwritten’ prose
I LOVE language. A beautiful sentence can evoke the same emotion in me as I imagine some people get watching sports, or sinking into a hot bath. But as a reader, I’m also picky.
For me, less is more. I like short sentences with crystalised images. I like to see language pushed to its limits; adverbs massacred; and nouns exploding into verbs. I want every word to have its place and come together to create something delicious.
But there’s a limit on how much of this I as a reader can take. If sentences are too long, it can feel to me like wading through a particularly boggy field. Words can quickly become claggy and I can find myself putting a book down.
This isn’t to say every reader feels like this. If your style IS long, complex prose then I can guarantee that there are readers looking for that. But for new writers, my advice is to try not to worry about packing in too much. Cut back. Focus. Let your words have the space they need to do the talking.
What do you think? Do you agree? Or would you take an ‘overwritten’ sentence every day over a short and snappy one? Sign up for free and let’s chat in the Townhouse.
Sarah J x
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