Out With the Old and in With the New?

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(C.S. Lewis) (Photo credit http://www.movieguide.org)

It would appear, in regards to writing that that is just how things seem to be.  Now just wait before you refute that first sentence.  Let me explain.  Old ideas and genres that “old” authors used to write in obviously are present today; many people still write about fantasy (like C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien once did).  Many people still write mysteries (like Arthur Conan Doyle once did).  Many people still write science-fiction (like H.G. Wells).  Many people write about modern times (like Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck once did).

Yet, there tends to be a great barrier that distinguishes us modern writers from the writers mentioned above, and many others around their time, from fifty years back to two-hundred.  What could this be?  Here is the answer:

The writings authors today lack the beauty and disciplinary values of the writings of past authors.  Today, authors tend to write just like they were writing a movie; there is little room for character depth; the depth of the created world (should the story be in one); lack of beauty in the way the words of the text are written; and lack of respect for writing as an art.  Writing is an art.  To make an analogy, think of what normally comes to mind when you think of art: you think of a painting.  And now to complete the analogy: if the authors of old had their written works described by a painting, the painting would be of something beautiful, with every detail thought out, and every part of its design possessing meaning, whether apparent or hidden.  If the authors of today had their written works described with a painting…well I hope you like stick figures.  Stick figures are simple; they possess no depth, no room for detail, and anyone can make stick figures.  Note also that while a great painting that depicts the skill and artistic qualities of the writers of old will live on, and be counted as a “classic”, something that can be looked at again and again for generations, the stick figures of today’s writers will be amusing for only a short time, and then forgotten.

I’m not saying that there aren’t impressive writers out there today.  There are just too few.  How have authors like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Dickens had works that survived so long?  It was because they put true, meaningful effort into their writing.  They made sure every sentence counted; that every word made sense.  They made sure there were no plot-holes.  They made sure they developed their characters.  They knew how to make words flow wonderfully in order to incite the  emotional reactions that they wanted their readers to have.  And they took their time with their books; they allowed themselves enough time to produce excellent pieces of literature and even allowed them to be edited for years.  Today, most publishers like it when authors crank out their books in a matter of months, or at least as quick as they can.  There’s nothing wrong with that; if you’ve got time, you’ve got time, and if your book is short…well, why not?  But time is not equivalent to effort, and doesn’t necessarily contribute to the beauty and artistic value that every piece of writing should have.  Giving effort, and endeavoring to have beauty and artistic value in one’s writing, will indeed take time, however.

So what do we do?  We slow down.  We take our time.  We strive to make our writing have beauty and meaning.  We endeavor to create stories that will last for centuries.  I know I am.  Thanks for reading.  If you have any thoughts, you know that I’d love to hear them.



8 thoughts on “Out With the Old and in With the New?

    rpete598 said:
    April 24, 2014 at 7:00 AM

    Part of the problem is the target audience. I know that many of the descriptions and literary devices of yesteryear are lost on today’s readers, especially the younger ones. It is very hard to get young people do appreciate good writing. I know this because I teach literature in a public high school. I think many authors are just trying to accommodate short attention spans. And then again some are just trying to make money.

      Aul responded:
      April 24, 2014 at 7:11 AM

      I suppose in today’s world, it makes sense to go for the money without focusing on the quality of the book, but I totally agree with what you’re saying.

    Elizabeth M. said:
    April 24, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    Your analogy is very good. It’s an excellent insight, and one that I’ll have to remember while writing MY story!

      Aul responded:
      April 24, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      Most certainly 🙂

    seangreen5 said:
    April 24, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    What rpete568 mentioned is very true I think. Authors of today may be catering to the shorter attention spans of those who are used to the fast paced floe of information that is the result of the internet and not really experiencing the depth of things because if they tried to explore the depth of things on the internet then they would never be able to leave the computer for the time it would take. I do appreciate a good writing and you can tell when an author has put the time into their story. One of the things that most annoyed me is finishing a narrative and leaving with the feeling that everything was not quite wrapped up. I don’t write much but I do read plenty and I understand your argument.

    Aul responded:
    April 25, 2014 at 2:58 AM

    I agree with everything you said!!!

    sarahansari said:
    April 25, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    I agree with what you said, especially when you said that the authors write as if they were writing a movie. I think that they may do that because that’s what they’re aiming for- to turn their book into a movie. It seems that the ultimate goal of the author nowadays is to have a book-turned-movie that, at least for a while, everyone will be in a craze to read. They put in more effort to make their book easily movie-turned than they do to make its fame last the years. If they could somehow do both, that’s great, but more often than not, they don’t. And to add on to what you said about writing being an art, I agree as well. I like to think of it as weaving a basket. You get all the pieces and bind them together, in a certain pattern that interlocks. But if you’re careless, the basket will leak and have holes. If you take your time, and weave the basket as tightly as possible, you’re left with this gorgeous piece of art, that won’t leak in the slightest. Beautiful post! 🙂

      Aul responded:
      April 26, 2014 at 3:31 AM

      Thanks for such a great reply! I like your basket analogy; it makes a lot of sense. I didn’t think of everyone writing books so that they can be turned into movies; I was more going for they write like their writing a movie just because it’s fast-paced and exciting, not because it’s actually good writing. But I agree with what you’re saying!
      Thanks again!

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