Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Writing for Effect

I was reading a writer board the other day, and somebody said that writing for effect was 'bad'.

What they meant was that they dislike the type of 'literary' writing that seems to require a thesaurus within reach...of the reader.

But what about 'writing for effect'? Is it bad?

My answer to the question is fairly simple. We are always writing for effect. That is to say, everything we write is intended to serve a purpose.

The 'effect' of this blog post is quite different from the 'effect' I might be seeking in writing a battle scene or a death scene...or a sex scene, for that matter. Fiction requires a different set of 'tools' from non-fiction.

A thriller writer is writing for a particular effect...pace. No matter how much some people might criticize Dan Brown, the man is a genius for pace. His stories balance perfectly and even though I actively dislike his writing, I have to admit...it flows.

A writer of erotica is writing for a different effect...arousal. When you write horror, you are writing to invoke fear. All of these 'effects' are something one has to write for.

I think the original person confused 'effective writing'...writing that evokes the correct mood or conveys the required information...with 'affected writing'.

The latter might well be considered 'bad'. Of course, there are readers who want to see the craft of writing overcome the story...and at its best, this kind of writing has a certain brilliance to it. It's not the effect, though, I'm ever likely to seek myself.