I was lucky enough to go to several readings at my college of writers that were being considered for a position in the English Department as a professor of fiction writing. Despite of all of them being very talented writers, one of them struck me the most.
Yet not because of a burning desire to learn more about the story she had given me glimpse of. Instead, it was because of the sense of detachment I had from her story, from her characters.
She chose to write the story in third person omniscient and, although, the prose was rich with vivid images, it was so removed, so poetic, that it pushed me away. Instead of being drawn to the grief, the troubles and the uncertainties that the characters were experiencing, I felt myself emotionless. Just an spectator.
When we turn to stories we want to see their blue sky, hear the horns of the traffic jam behind their house, taste their grandmother’s leftover lasagna. We want to share their heartbreak and loss, their happiness and laughter.
I fear that writers sometimes, in wanting our prose to be more beautiful and poetic, we forget what our job is: to make their characters and worlds come alive.
Sometimes simpler is better. Sometimes simpler is closer.
And that’s what a story should be. Closer.