This is frustrating, just when I think I am getting this, there appear dualisms which contradicts it. Adjective/multiple adjectives; metaphor/multiple metaphors ?????????
James: Transparent writing can still dance, play, sing, scream, you name it. But it uses cadence and rhythm, rather than writerly words and phrases. Read Ray Bradbury. Maybe the best stylist of them all, he almost always uses simple words, and simple phrases, letting cadence and rhythm do the work.
Good, invisible writing is about the senses. You see the look in a child’s eyes on Christmas morning, you hear the whisper of a lover’s voice, you taste the dew of a freshly plucked strawberry, you touch the wet muzzle of a friendly dog, and you smell the salt of the ocean spray.
What you don’t see is the writer showing off with words.
James: I don’t think metaphors and similies are bad, and it would be difficult to write without using some. But if they’re noticable, they probably shouldn’t be there. Many writers try too hard with metaphors and similies, and they come out overblown, contrived, mixed, or flowery.
But goods ones that bring out the truth of a matter, while not going overboard, can make for very good writing. Writing good, meaningful, quiet metaphors and similies is an art form unto itself.
In humor, of course, overblown metaphors and similies can be wonderful. But unintentianally funny ones can be brutal.
If I am understanding the discussion of “invisible writing” it is to keep it simple, only use one adjective or metaphor/simile, and not let the writing become a distraction. Right?
Yet, James, I find I love all the adjectives and metaphors. If you had left off the “scream” in the first post (4th adjective), or “quiet” in the second post (3rd adjective), I would have felt cheated. Those fourth and third adjectives were my favorites and–spoke to me, clinched the deal. They did not dilute the message, but made it stronger. The paragraph about the senses was eloquent–it captured the essence of the idea. BUT, it also captured my imagination and attention as a writer-wannabee. I had to stop, go back and reread it so that I could savor how each sense was portrayed. So, I’m just an adjective addict? Like “show offs”? Going into writer’s madness? I don’t know.
Currently I am reading, I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, and find I am skipping/scanning whole pages. There is just too much description, the description is both boring (too many details) and upsetting. I can still follow the plot which doesn’t seem right. Should I really be able to follow the story and be skipping pages? If the book is full of extraneous prose, shouldn’t the author or editor have gutted whole sections? When Tom Wolfe is an exemplary, best-selling author, who am I to even critique him? If I was a true addict, shouldn’t I LOVE all that detail?
Maybe, I’m a cheap drunk, and I like quick, small shots in a couple paragraphs- but not in a long novel? Maybe, I just don’t have a clue? Maybe, it is because I chose this book because it was recommended as an example of “narrative fiction” and therefore I am specifically concentrating on writing technique using my “writer” eyes? Maybe, I need a cup of tea?