My stories snowball. The plots begin slowly and slide down a four-act slope unfamiliar to most readers. Along the way they collect “unnecessary” sub-plots and huge cast lists, gather speed near the end to crash big, then roll to a slow halt.
I also routinely defy the “Chekov’s Gun” rule, clutter my paragraphs with rhythmic repetition, adverbs, oddly-constructed dialogue, and scenes that don’t drive the plot forward. Yes, I do much of this by design. (Not all. Anything done can be overdone.) But I confess freely I write my prose the way I do on purpose.
Nobody needs that, right? That sort of writing needs cutting, slicing, tightening, and revamping. Remove those extra descriptions. Pick one way to say a thing. If you show it, don’t tell it. Cut out the fat of phrasings and leave only the meaty core.
Sometimes yes. Sometimes, emphatically, no.
Go watch Hateful Eight. (but only if you have a strong stomach) Now speak to me of showing and telling, knotted plot threads, non sequiturs, slow progression, meandering dialogue, uneven scenes, and characters who do not “serve the story.”
Some excellent writing strays far from the path of easy consumption. Yet everywhere I turn, I see subversiveness rejected by consumers who view writing with a critic’s eye or an editor’s mindset. Tarantino fans are clearly the exception. Alas, as far as I know, they aren’t reading my books.
Here’s a dirty truth: all reader value judgments are equally valid/invalid, no matter how much experience, how much gravitas, how much talent they bring to their evaluation. In many ways, the more familiar a reader is with the nuts and bolts of writing, the less objective their value judgments become.
Reading is a process deeply colored by unexamined elements. We bring our knowledge of the writer, our full and prior reading experience, and even our moods to the page with us.
Is Hateful Eight Tarantino’s best? I don’t think so. Is it good? Its box office popularity is undeniable, but how would viewers and critics judge the same script from an unknown? If it wasn’t written by Tarantino, whose weighty awards and critical acclaim give his vision critical momentum, would Hateful Eight have been green-lighted in the first place?
I have to wonder.
And that’s my point, as much as this post has one. I’ve been a misfit all my life. l can live with that status extending to my writing, even when it means being buried under an avalanche of disinterest.