…all those things are indisputably good. But they’re not what hook the
reader. The brain, it turns out, is far less picky when it comes pretty prose than we’ve been led to believe.”
My agent, Kristin Nelson, puts it more succinctly in one of her blogs: GOOD WRITING IS NOT ENOUGH.
Yeah, sad, I know, to us word sluts. But true.
…the classics are full of bawdy jokes (Shakespeare) and cutting remarks and tension really understood by the time (Dickens). What makes people want to read today is the same that made people read the classics.
Bingo. Those old classics were new classics in their day and spoke in a contemporary voice to those readers at that time. We need to remember that when we craft. Granted, some things are timeless. But overall, hey, we write Commercial Genre Fiction. You know, Penny Dreadfuls. Pulp Fiction. We don’t seek a small elite readership but a huge readership (jonesing for dopamine).
Still–lonely is lonely, love is love, fear is fear… today or three thousand years ago. In writing, we work to the CORE of those things, then we amend them to our genre, readership, and current trends (when applicable). I have about five different bibles (not about writing but the God ones…), some with a more contemporary tone (The Message), one in both Hebrew and English, another in a more scholarly translation, and so on. The stories are OLD. And in some translations, yeah, they read kind of stuffy. But the same story in an updated translation (The Message, The Voice) read like a novel of today. And then there’s The Passion Translation, which super appeals to the poet in me.
Now, I’m not trying to get you all to start singing the Hallelujah chorus or recite the Shema. My point is that even words THAT OLD can be made fresh. It’s an art AND a craft to do so.
And good editing. 😉
//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//