Sep 232009
 

My dear friend Lauri over at Thoughts From Botswana wrote an interesting post on Literary Fiction versus Popular Fiction. These are my thoughts in response:

For me plot is art. Characterisation and character relationships are art. There is a real art to constructing a work of fiction that both shows and tells a compelling story with characters the reader can feel, but without the reader being aware of the scaffolding involved in such construction. I agree with John Grisham’s points that you don’t want to distract the reader; you want him to become absorbed in your book.

That said, there is poetry and beautiful writing that also stands as art, and stands out because it is beautiful. It does tend to be distracting, in a good way. There is a limit, I think, on what type of story one can tell entirely with writing that is meant to be savoured for itself. Certainly not a fast-paced or suspenseful story.

I haven’t read Dan Brown’s book, but I suspect if Pullman has noticed the writing style, this means one or both of two things: either Brown’s writing construction is too obvious, or Pullman reads like a writer and is overly sensitive to scaffolding.

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