Weak Prose and Boredom

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I’m finding myself becoming more and more bored by the style of prose exemplified by the contemporary mainstream publishing model. Not all of it bores me, and I don’t think most of it is bad, per se, but there are times when I will read a book and find myself wondering why I’m reading it at all. I’ve always read to be entertained, but lately some of the books I’ve tried to read have failed on that mark. I lose interest in the prose, not the ideas being expressed (although sometimes the ideas cause me to roll my eyes, which is, perhaps, an unavoidable symptom of having “seen it before and in better form”).

I suspect a lot of this has to do with a change in tastes. No, I’m not becoming a weird “literary” reader (though I like me some literary fiction in the SF/F vein), but I do like the novels I read to have prose that does more than just “get the job done.” I want the prose to say something to me, to show me things, rather than tell me they exist. Words like “intricate” or “stiff” are meaningless if I don’t understand the context, or see what it is the author is trying to say. I understand the impulse to have prose that isn’t flowery, but sometimes a little flare to one’s prose can make for a more enjoyable experience.

The kind of prose I’m talking about here is weak prose. The author forgets that they’re not just telling a story, but showing one. It happens a lot, and for many readers, that’s good enough–for publishers too, because they sell a lot of books with weak prose. But, this sort of bare bones prose is, to me, a waste of paper. Stories deserve more. They deserve a little description, some clever uses of prose, or a little more than two-dimensional character development or plots.

Liven things up a bit, folks. It’s okay, really. Readers will love you for it if you can make your writing a little more interesting. If they don’t, then hit them with a cumbersome object.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.

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