I read a lot of posts on the writing forums about what to write, or how to write it, and it got me thinking. Is there truly a right way to write your book? And the answer has to be no! Here’s why:
Each person has their own style of writing (or what people like to call ‘voice’), which involves everything from sentence structure, complexity of vocabulary or thoughts. These are what separate lets’ say Stephen King from Clive Cussler or Hemingway from Faulkner.
I remember reading about Hemingway and Faulkner having their famous feud over various issues, with writing style being one of the biggest issues.
Faulkner made the comment:
He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.
Now I take umbrage with that because I don’t care to send a reader to the dictionary either. Why do so when there’s plenty of words to get your point across that are simpler? Plus, in this age of dumbing down of people, a lot of readers may or may not even understand what you’re saying in the first place. So, why do so? You know what I mean? I, like King, think that writing is about enriching another persons life, not trying to show how much knowledge of Mirriam-Webster you have.
If you as a writer think that creating a novel is all about you and stroking your ego, then you’ve got the entire process of art wrong. Art is not done for the attention but for creative release and the enjoyment of others. Once again, I have to agree with this King quote:
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
Getting yourself, and the reader happy, is the most important part of artistry-and that’s just how it is.
As for the Faulkner-Hemingway battle, I’m not through talking about that. Ernest had a shot to fire back over the comment about the dictionary:
Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.
I’m personally on the side of Hemingway in this battle. I write simply and to the point. Long, complex sentences allow me more opportunity to screw something up or have to do a major editing to carry out to get it correct. With that said, I chose to use the simple words and simple sentences.
Sometimes the KISS formula is the best one.