The antivirus program had no doubt. The ever-changing virus definitions were outdated, even if only by a matter of hours, and the computer was AT RISK! That was a serious warning, especially for us, since our work is stored on the computer and was also at risk, backup copies notwithstanding. We updated the program right away.
Now all we need is the same kind of clear indication when our writing is at risk. While writing trends evolve less quickly than computer viruses, preferences of readers, editors, and publishers do change. As an example, here’s an excerpt from a book written in 1908:
So busily engaged was each after his own fashion that nobody observed the approach of a solitary figure down the highway of the river. The man appeared tiny around the upper bend, momently growing larger as he approached. HIs progress was jerky and on an uneven zigzag, according as the logs lay, by leaps, short runs, brief pauses, as a riverman goes. Finally he stepped ashore just below the camp, stamped his feet vigorously free of water, and approached the group around the cooking-fire.
Ignoring the then-accepted wording (“appeared tiny,” “momently,” “according as the logs lay”), the question posed from the viewpoint of today’s preferences is this: If no one observed the solitary figure, then how do we know how he approached? The omniscient style, where the narrator knows all the thoughts, actions, and feelings of all characters, is no longer in favor.
Does that mean you should change your style if you prefer to use the omniscient point of view? We’re not going to tell you how to write your books. We just think that keeping up with changes in the writing world leads to making informed decisions.
With that in mind, here are two other trends to consider.
Covers. A recent article in the New York Times about the poor pay for romance cover image models describes the changes to these book covers over the years. Would you believe some people are tired of looking at toned ab muscles?
Commas. Recent edits of our work have included removal of “extraneous” commas and we’re told the general trend is toward the use of fewer commas. When even the National Geographic Style Manual agrees, who are we to argue?
We’re not saying to make changes simply for the sake of keeping up with what’s now considered “modern.” The 1908 book we quoted above still sits on our bookshelf, and not only because it was a gift from a friend. The story is interesting, the characters complex, the plot twists engaging. Good writing is a preference that never goes out of style.
How do you think your writing style might be at risk? Let us know in the comments.
HL Carpenter — Read along with us!
Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter writes sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit HLCarpenter.com to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.
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