Say what?

Indeed. Or rather, that’s my point entirely. In a sense, anyway.

Frustrated yet? I know I am – and I’m the one writing this. There are few things as skin-crawlingly irritating as a writer who doesn’t communicate well. And it’s only really communication when the person on the receiving end actually understands the message. The same rule applies for fiction, non-fiction and all points in-between.
Let me go out on a limb here and say that I’d rather read bad writingwhere I at least know what’s being said or described – than writing that’s abstruse. Know what I mean? Of course you do.
I’m not against literary fiction or experimental writing or esoteric writing. Both Flatland and Cosmic Doctrine remain two favourite books for mental somersaults and interesting dreams. Carlos Castaneda has a similarly positive effect.
Back in the day, I sent my magical fantasy novel to one editor who claimed to be both aware and appreciative of the themes woven through the book. But when the ms came back with the dreaded red pen declaring ‘I don’t understand this‘ and ‘what are you trying to say here‘, it became clear that there was a problem. It didn’t matter if other people had read the book and understood it sufficiently to enjoy it (hopefully). If the editor hadn’t received my writing loud and clear – and especially if I wanted to work with them – then that was my problem.
Writers need readers and, quite rightly, readers can be an unforgiving bunch. Check out the lowest scoring Amazon reviews for some of the bestsellers and you’ll be surprised what gets their goat. Even £1 or $1 on an unknown writer is still an investment on the part of the reader, to say nothing of their time. It’s a fool who doesn’t take every opportunity to avoid disappointing them.

One comment

  1. Chloe says:

    Very timely for me – I'm reading Ulysses at the moment and it's so obscure, I literally have no idea what's going on for pages at a time. I'm sure I'm just very uncultured, but I feel proper punctuation helps rather than ties-down a writer!

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