Okay, bear with me.
I’ve rewritten and paraphrased some of what I read, but here’s the gist of it.
Ramrod stepped out of his spotless 2014 black Hummer and surveyed his new purchase. The concrete and steel condo rose up in front of him, its austere sense of security distinctly satisfying to him. This was the perfect place for him to pursue his obsession: flower-arranging. Except for his collection of Samurai swords, nothing gave him more pleasure than the delicate, meditative hobby he had practiced in secret for over 20 years. It would now be the secure base for his work, and no one would ever know about his alter-ego.As we read, we generally find that the writing steers us in certain directions. One sentence leads to the next; each sentence builds on the one before to create a fluid forward motion. But with this sample, I found myself stutter-stepping backward and forward over and over, having to re-read and refigure what the author was trying to say.
It reminded me of a GPS unit that is constantly saying, “Recalculating.”
Here’s the process I went through:
Reading a story should not require that much effort. As a writer, I believe my job is to lay down a nice, smooth highway that is paved with words, and my reader should be able to zoom down that highway in their readingmobile without so much as a pebble in the way. Any obstruction in the road, any detour in the story stops the reader and forces them to recalculate—to go back and try to figure out what, exactly, the writer is trying to say. Not only has the reader been knocked off that nice new highway, but now they actually have to go back and see what the problem was and even repair it—rewording the errant sentence or at least understanding it in a different context—before they can continue on so the story will make sense. After hitting two or three or five potholes like that, the reader is probably not going to be so keen on making this trip after all.
They may just take the next offramp and go find a smoother story road.
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on July 24, 2013