Lyrical prose makes the words sing, doesn’t it?
Without the restrictions assigned to other styles, fiction writers are free to express their creativity, bend rules, even alter time and place to give us beautiful prose.
Take Anna Karenina and the paragraph that sums up hopelessness and pain.
“All her illness and treatment stuck her as a thing so stupid, ludicrous even! Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken.”
Tolstoy could’ve limited this to “Her heart was broken,” but the reader would have been robbed of Anna’s emotional complexity. No emotion, no reason to care, little reason to read on.
Another book that comes to mind is Janet Fintch’s “White Oleander.” The heart-wrenching images stick in this reader’s mind like glue, but without having wrapped the story in lyrical prose the images would have faded from memory soon after.
Here’s a short segment form the opening paragraph: “We couldn’t sleep in the hot dry nights, my mother and I. … I climbed to the roof and easily spotted her blond hair like a white flame in the light of the three-quarter moon.”
The beautiful imagery describes Mom’s restlessness, (showing her almost on fire), which lead to their problems.
Lyrical prose conjures up vivid images; it creates psychological and emotional depth. I have deep admiration for authors who take the time to use language as musical instruments, to serenade the reader with their prose.
None of this is without an element of danger. Overwriting tends to sneak into lyrical writing. We make small moments larger than life. Overuse metaphors and similes (I know I have to avoid such pitfalls).
The language doesn’t always have to be musical and rhythmic, right? Imagine how exhausting for the reader to experience the character’s deep emotional feelings all the time.
Searching for the the right balance isn’t easy. So, the study continues.
How do you find the right balance? What is the effect lyrical prose has on you ?
Thank you for stopping by my site. Hope to see you on Monday, when M is for Murals of Southern California. Have a magnificent weekend!
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