Mystery writing tip #3, Keep it moving, people!

Did you ever notice how writing styles have changed with the times? Back in the day of Charles Dickens, narratives were long and elegant, rich with description and leisurely dialogue. Here’s an example from The Pickwick Papers.

Mr. Tom Roker, the gentleman who had accompanied Mr. Pickwick into the prison, turned sharp round to the right when he got to the bottom of the little flight of steps, and led the way, through an iron gate which stood open, and up another short flight of steps, into a long narrow gallery, dirty and low, paved with stone and very mysterious eyesdimly lighted by a window at each remote end.

Pick up a new release now, and most of what you’ll find is terse, to the point, and fast-moving. Of course, it’s a reflection of our culture. We want our internet to pop up our search results in speedy fashion. Microwaves churn out meals in moments. Technology of all kinds is faster, better, easier. Hence, our books must reflect that need for speed. Literary fiction allows for a more leisurely pace, it seems to me, but most mystery/suspense novels these days are going to provide relatively short chapters with fast paced prose. I’m pretty comfortable with a ten to twelve page chapter and I generally stick to that. The problem or inciting incident is going to show up early, in the first few pages perhaps and the dialogue tends to be sprinkled in sparingly along with a heaping helping of action.
Do you enjoy a fast paced book or one that is more literary in style? Do you find your tastes have changed as you’ve matured as a reader? Do share! ☺

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by R on June 11, 2013 at 3:46 am

    A garden is always more beautiful when the flowers within it are beautifully described by the author. Brevity is important and perhaps the soul of wit, but not necessarily the key ingredient in communicating art…visual, or verbal!

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  2. Posted by Bob duPont on June 11, 2013 at 3:42 am

    A garden is always more beautiful when the flowers in it are beautifully described for the reader.

    R

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