Tag Archives: Prose

A letter to people who think they know it all in the world of writing and books

Hi Pretentious Self-Assumed expert,

Let me start by introducing myself. I am pretty well read and what follows is not sarcasm. My favorite book series are Harry Potter, Twilight (Do I hear distaste already?) and books by Dan Brown. I could mention some more but I guess this is a good enough flamebait.
Ok fine Harry Potter is not the best book ever (if there is such a thing and if there was, it would have a good chance if it were up to me) but what is with the hate? Why did it take you seven books to realise you did not like it? Why are you supressing (or have conveniently forgotten) the exhilarating experience that it was. And don’t tell me you did not secretly enjoy Twilight. I mean I am a guy and I loved it. If I was a girl I may have bonkers even.
I was reading an article where Dan Brown was described as a poor writer and I thought to myself… really? The euphoria I got reading Dan Brown was pretty unmatched.
Closer to home people blast Chetan Bhagat. At this point I would like to ask you this?
‘What does it mean to be a good writer?’
And I think your explanation of this is going to be something like this:
‘He should make his words sing.’
‘Should use as few words to convey as much as possible with no repetitions.’
‘Structure should be good.’
‘Prose should be refined.’ etc…etc.

Dan Brown on Page number 8 wrote ….
‘The sky was blue-green’. What a poor writer. He should have written ‘The sky was the color of the light tinge of turquoise waters on a warm beach.’ You have a point there…but that’s about it. Prose is an integral part of writing but it is not writing itself.
The soul of writing to me is the narrative voice and plot. To me good writing is simply what pulls you right in and makes you want to finish reading. The reading does not come out of effort but simply being genuinely interested in the tale.
When you were told or read Cinderella you did not trip over the color of her slippers which were something like translucent blue crystal; you were more keen on knowing what happens next and how the story unfolds. And I think you are now going to say that, we have grown up with time hence our stories cannot be so simple and they should have more detail and blah…blah which is partly true but mostly rubbish. There is a reason why Harry Potter appealed to Everyone and not just kids. Even as adults our child like curiosity to stories remains. And I feel you have lost yours. Your obsession with prose has blinded your innate capacity to enjoy stories. As if it is the only means of measuring ‘good writing.’ I would say grow up dude but actually I will say, ‘don’t grow up.’
Recently my mom asked me, which novel she should read. And this got me thinking. She was asking for a novel and not the tinkles and magazines that she has read. There was a long pause and then I said, ‘Chetan Bhagat.’ I was half surprised by my own answer and for some reason even half-ashamed. What else could I suggest to a potential novel lover who really wants to have a good time with light prose. I could not suggest Harry Potter or Stephen King cause funnily enough their prose is a bit high. So I suggested something that makes for not only an easy but also an interesting read.

I am not a Chetan Bhagat fan but I am not his hater either. I read a couple of his novels and they were decent enough. Nothing more. Nothing less. Give him credit, atleast he’s honest with himself and not trying to be someone else. It’s easy to bitch and say he sucks (I have done it too) but that’s quite far from the truth and it is the equivalent of telling someone casually, ‘You know that TV show sucked’ while it might have genuinely entertained you.

Our best case scenario is a writer with superb prose in addition to a strong narrative voice as well as plot but that’s rare and even subjective.
If I had to choose between an average prose with beautiful plot and rich story telling ( Brandon Sanderson/ Harry Potter/Twilight/Dan Brown perhaps?) or between an epic prose (oddly enough I have ran out of words…haha not really I am just trying to make a point!) and a poor story I would choose the former everytime. I am not saying I am a good writer (by your definition I am not) but I did make you read this far… so that kinda proves my premise 🙂

Yours Sincerly,
Harry Potter Lover