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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.  

Ultimate Novel Writing Course – Deadline 28 August 

Write your novel in a year on this expert online course, featuring special events, mentoring, feedback from agents and more. We have just a few places remaining and the deadline for entry is this Friday! 


NEW on Jericho Writers 

MASTERCLASS: Strong literary prose (FREE for members) 

Join indie publisher Sam Jordison as he unravels literary prose in this masterclass. He’s also joined by agent Imogen Pelham for a chat about the market for literary fiction as a whole. 



BURSARY: Self-Edit Your Novel course 

Under-represented writers are invited to apply for a free place on September’s sold-out Self-Edit Your Novel tutored course, with one-in-four alumni now published. Closes 31 August, so get those entries in this week! 


FESTIVAL: Get your latecomer ticket to see Neil Gaiman LIVE (Discounts available for members) 

We’ve slashed the price of the Summer Festival tickets for the end of August / September. Get yours now to join Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell live in conversation this week. 


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 

Plus, don’t miss: 

Manuscript Assessment  (Discounts available for members) 

Our most popular editorial service matches you to your dream editor and gives you tailored feedback on your work. It doesn’t get better than that. 

Complete Novel Mentoring (Discounts available for members) 

Write or edit your book alongside one of our expert mentors, including multi-bestselling authors and commissioning editors.  

Become a member of Jericho Writers

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