James O. Born
The language of the novel has everything to do with how it's received and the way in which a reader perceives it. I know that sounds obvious, but many writers don't seem to get it. I'm not talking about every novel written with exquisite prose and flowery language. Some novels are written bluntly and to the point. Some tell the story of survival and danger and require a different tone. Some have a lighter touch and certain language would crush the comedic timing. One way to think of the tone of your writing is the music to a movie. I am a fan of Shakespeare's Henry V and seen the movie starring Laurence Olivier several times. In
Consider all that when you decide how you want to tell your story. Our friend and fellow blogger, Paul Levine, once told me about his experience writing the excellent novel Illegal.
The other language quirk that I would look at if I were starting my first novel was avoiding clichés. Things do stick out like sore thumbs, but they also stick out like George Bush's ears or, for that matter, Barack Obama's ears. Have I just stumbled onto a hidden code about our presidents?
One of Elmore Leonard's famous rules is never used the phrase, "Then all hell broke loose." I listened to him so intently that I don't even use that phrase in real life anymore.
Is he a smart as a whip? Or are smart as Neil Degrasse Tyson? This one isn't really a cliché because Tyson is a very bright
Is he lonelier than an Amish electrician? (Thanks Larry the Cable Guy).
Something faster than a speeding locomotive or is it faster than Adrian Petersen in the open field. Is it faster than the French army in reverse? (You can never go wrong poking fun at French military expertise.)
They don't all have to be funny, they just have to avoid being clichés. Personally, I avoid clichés like the plague.
Work smarter not harder. Or whatever.
Our quote this week is more contemporary, but right on the money, I mean, as precise as George Will’s elocution.
“You either have to write or you shouldn’t be writing. That’s all.”― Joss Whedon