Elegance in Simplicity

"No one ever complained that something was too easy to understand."


It's true.


When I started writing TNT, the extravagant allure of purple prose seduced the hell out of me.


I always loved learning new words. So any chance I got to pepper my writing with flowery words or phrases, oooohh boy, you betcha - I grabbed them by the horns and threw them down on the page with triumphant relish.


Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles series was a big influence on my writing, especially in the early days. She often got very deeply poetic with her writing, too. And so I figured if she does it, why can't I?


It fit for TNT, too. Particularly with certain characters (Eilyssa, I'm looking at you, girl!), whose speech patterns verged on pure poetry.


And it was a blast to write! (though I'm considering a revised edition now, all these years later in my newfound wisdom.)


Because here's the thing... It's not the best way. At least, not in my opinion.


 

the best books are the ones you gobble up without even thinking about it.


The ones that draw you in and consume hours of your life before you realise you've done more than just blink.


And those books are often the ones that know how to get out of their own way. More specifically, the author knows how to get out of the story's way.


Cause that's what we're talking about here. The story. What's RIGHT for the story.


If you're writing away and throwing in all the fanciest, flowingest (yes, I'm allowed to make words up), most impressive language you know... Then I urge you to stop and ask yourself if it's for the story or for your ego - to show readers just how smart you are, and how wide your vocabulary is.


If your writing uses more eloquently complex words than Russell Brand when he's off on an impassioned rant, take a second to pause. Think it over.


 

Because there's power in simplicity.


When your writing is overly verbose, you're forcing readers to think. You're making a part of their brain work at digesting what you've said.


You're splitting their mental focus...


🧠 Half of it on understanding how clever your writing is.


🧠 The other half on processing the story itself.


When really, you want 100% of their focus on the story.


Because it's not about you or how many words you know and can string together in personified elegance.


It's about the story.


As a writer, you serve the story. Don't forget that.


I'm not saying there's never a place to flex your vocab muscles and I'm not decrying the value of using less common words.


What I'm getting at here is more about getting out of the way.


Because that's when your story can really shine - when you stop trying to bind it in your words and let it speak for itself, through you.


It took me delving deep into the world of marketing and copywriting to understand this fully. To finally grasp the simplicity of getting out of the way of what you're writing.


A lot of people resist or reject it because they think simple is just a stone's throw from stupid.


Not so, my friend, not so.


I encourage anyone reading this to go to great lengths to write (even to speak) in the simplest way possible. Because that's how you'll get to a universal level of understanding. And that's the whole point.


Writing, storytelling - neither is about exclusion.


I've been devouring Patrick Lee's Travis Chase trilogy recently. These books are excellent at getting out of their way and letting the story take you on a journey. I highly recommend it! (especially if you like the sound of a mysterious thriller woven around a Breach in reality that spits out mysterious, powerful, incredible and dangerous objects, and the kind of love interest story that beautifully supports the plot without ever trying to become it.)


Can you recommend any books or writers with a talent for keeping it simple and staying out of the story's way? I'd love to hear it if you do!

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