Writing Prose

Right. Adjectives and adverbs adorn but cannot carry the prose. It’s nouns and verbs that do the work. Another bugbear to watch for is the prepositional phrase. One per sentence will suffice; two can misdirect attention; three may destroy tone, pace, and clarity.


I haven’t looked through what other people have said yet, so I don’t know if I’m repeating/flying in the face of what others have already said, however:

Have you considered that less may in this case be more?

Some of my favourite books read like scripts (look at bits of Umberto Eco’s Foucalt’s Pendulum). Admittedly I am a Theatre student, so maybe that’s not surprising, but still. As an artist, you have absolutely permission to take whatever creative liberties you fancy and if the idea of writing “prose” for “the sake of it” then it’s very simple - don’t write prose!

Or maybe you should take this in a completely different direction entirely and start thinking about what you’d tell the director about how you want to stage it!

I’m the opposite. Paint me a picture. That explains the 30K words that I have used to cover 10 minutes of a lunch date between lovers. [size=50]Vic-k, quit going there, it isn’t that 10 minutes![/size] The proofers (wife and daughter) are loving it and asking for more so I have to think it isn’t all that bad.

I guess just go with what feels right unless you are writing for someone else (I am thinking the contract folks and tech writers). If I don’t want to read it then I shouldn’t write it.

Good thing I don’t expect to even try to make a living writing…

True - it is VERY subjective.

I think painting a picture and leaving big gaps achieve very different effects. If you leave gaps (like Umberto Eco) then you’re imagination is left to fill them in; everyone ends up interpreting things differently, but that’s not a bad thing at all!

If you give them everything however, then it works in a very different way (I mean, Tolkien was incredible, but in a VERY different way to Eco)!

I hope this train of thought it helpful in some way.

(I’m off to bed now)

My first drafts look like scripts, shooting scripts to be more precise. And that’s my problem – I can see it all in my head [get that bottle of pills away from me!!] and whenever I read for revision, I still have that cinema running that fills in all the implied physical senses.

But when I conscript my S.O. to a reading, he doesn’t have that same benefit/advantage, and ends up not ‘getting’ the nuances – because I forget I haven’t put then into the ms, yet.

But I likes da prose! I wants it! I wants it!

One day I’m going to get my eyes fixed, and then I am going to decode the secret messages vic and his disciples are sending back and forth.

And as for 30K words for a 10 minute lunch date - it would want to be a very important lunch date for those 2 people! For the sake of writer’s cramp, here’s hoping it ends badly and they don’t spend the night together!

Oops, seems like I did go there…

Such heavy focus can be great, as long as it has a good reason, and the entire story isn’t treated in such microscopic detail. Minimalism is good at times too. Usually all mixed up in the same story.


Don’t worry about the eyes. It wont help.

I do find that somethings are best left to the imagination, but sometimes the imagination should be allowed a night off. I like to hide little tidbits in all the words. I think of an essay Mark Twain describes where the author (Mark Twain) describes the pose of a petrified (turned to stone) man. the result is a gag that you only get if you pay attention and connect the relatively spares dots. To me this is gold that is worth digging for.

Now that sparked my curiosity a little.

Got a title, or better, a link?

He oringinally wrote it as a newspaper column for the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, Nevada dated October 4, 1862.
Read this first if you want no explanation. twainquotes.com/18621004t.html

Here is an essay that was Twain’s way of saying “WTF is wrong with you people?”
checkplease.humorfeed.com/issues … eTwain.php

And now the historical account of its impact in Twain lore.
museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/Hoax … ified_Man/

He is my hero.

Remember that writing is a process of taking baby steps. Starting where you’re most comfortable. Think about all the times you’ve clocked “hang on, they won’t get that” during a reading and then find a way of communicating it, but remember that you are under no contract as to HOW you communicate it. Fine, if you really want to write it as prose, then go down that line; but if it was me I would do it as prose-poetry, or think of it as a performance piece (i.e. I would communicate those nuances vocally and physically, rather than textually).

That having been said, I am a poet and a performance maker way before I am novelist; so I would say that - that is what I feel most comfortable doing.

What I am trying to relate to you is that, I found I respond to things most creatively, by discovering my voice wasn’t what I expected it to be. I had a story to tell and for ages I wanted to make it into a novel. Then I blocked up and left it alone for years. Recently, I’ve come back to it and thought: I could try making this into a novel, or I could try making this into a film or a play (a possible project for Uni me thinks; I don’t have the time, energy or access to performers I feel like collaborating with at the moment) - and if I do make it into a novel, I will use my skills as a performer and poet in doing so - i.e. I will give myself absolute permission for things not to make literal/grammatical sense.

What I’m trying to say is this:
Once you see that there are MANY ways of telling a story, then you can start flying.