Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
... to a degree. It's a bit more involved than just the vocabulary, though that's certainly a part of it. Besides vocabulary, it's the style of the narrative and way it's told. The clip that James posted is more of what I'm inclined to imitate. It's the way that essay is weaved: almost like poetry and very lyrical. The nuts and bolts as opposed to the gloss. That's more of what I meant by sophisticated.

That's the way I tend to write, as well. I find it beautiful, lyrical, and well beyond what most can manage. More important, much more important, it says something essential, something dead on true about the nature of every real outdoorsman I've ever known.

That essay could have been written about me, and the way it's written, makes me feel, makes me see, makes me look inside and understand.

I think blacbird is right when he says you don't need to fluff up your prose with fancy words and allusions and metaphors and symbolism to make a story great, but this doesn't mean your writing can be flat, ordinary, and still make the grade.

Sometimes story does trump all, as in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, which uses very ordinary writing. Ordinary, but far from simple. Every sentence in that story is designed to keep the reader in a certain mood, give the reader certain expectations. When Jackson suddenly takes a left turn at the end, it's the way the story was written, the mood Jackson set, the expectations she provided, that makes the ending so powerful.

The Lottery would not have worked with lyrical, beautiful prose, just as Upon the Earth Below would not have worked with plain, simple prose.

Simple and unpretentious should not mean flat and ordinary. Ray Bradbury uses very simple words, but he makes them sing. He uses these ordinary word to add rhythm and cadence to extraordinary sentences. They go to unexpected places, and they say things we did not expect to read.

All these writers know "The Secret". First you must have something true to say. Second, you must say it in a way that matches that particular story, those particular characters, and the true thing you want to say.

You don't match writing to market, you match writing to the story you're writing at any given time.

It all comes back to having something to say. Then you need a character to say it, and say it as that character would. Most think this means something like accent or word choice, if you're writing about an Irish character. It doesn't. That's surface, and you want depth. An Irishman is not Irish because of his accent or his word choice, but because of what he believes, thinks, feels, wants, and needs.

Read Green Shadows, White Whale, also by Ray Bradbury. He captures the people, the place, the time, and the True, but not with accent or word choice of the characters. He does it by knowing the people and the place, by understanding the people and the place.

Despite simple words, there is no simple writing.

Anyway, don't change your writing, your voice, or your style because you're writing for this market or that one. Change it because this story of that needs a particular style, needs a particular voice, to say whatever it is you want to say in the best possible way.

It just isn't about market. Unless you're basically writing the same mystery with the same characters over and over, voice and style should change form one mystery story to another.

Sometimes you want simple, which doesn't mean flat, and sometimes you want eloquent, lyrical, beautiful, which in no way means pretentious.

What every market wants is simply a well-written story with something true to say. Well-written is tough. It never means flat and ordinary prose that just lays on the page without purpose, and it never means fancy, fluffed up prose that does little but show off.

Just write your stories so that you tell the true, as Jane Yolen says, and write prose that fits story and character, not market.