I’m reading a book right now by Patricia Wentworth, published in 1953. Although I’m very much enjoying this book, I’m finding the going slower than in the novels of today, which started me thinking. Patricia Wentworth was English, which partially accounts for her writing style, and she was from another generation of writers. Born in India in 1878 and privately educated, she was most famous for her Miss Maud Silver mystery series, although her career as an author spanned many decades with varied series and stand alone novels.
Her language is more literary than works of today and she uses larger, more obscure words, which I’m finding fascinating. I love to learn new words and have been consulting the dictionary for each one I’m not familiar with. She never would have ended the previous sentence with a preposition, by the way!
When I was writing my book, SHE HAD TO KNOW, my first drafts had “bigger” words, ones I thought described the situation or setting much better than any others I might have used in ordinary conversation, but I was discouraged from doing much of that in today’s market. Interesting, huh? I was encouraged to write simply and plainly so the reader’s experience would be smooth and rapid. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with that advice. In my humble opinion, some words are better than others and I had spent countless hours finding just the perfect words to explain my meaning. However, I wanted to be published and I was confident editors certainly knew more than I, so I cut out many of the lovely words I had so painstakingly inserted.
Perhaps this situation is a generational one since, by some, I am now considered a senior . My reading experiences started earlier than that of many readers today, but I keep hearing phrases like, “Books today are being dumbed down.” Is that actually true? Is it true only in genre fiction? It definitely isn’t true with all the books I read, but many on the market are meant to be fast reads. Could that be considered dumbing down? People today have busy lives and they don’t want to spend time looking up words in a dictionary in order to understand what an author is saying. Is that true?
I guess, for me, I like a mixture of reading material. Sometimes I don’t want to have to think too hard. I just want to escape into someone else’s world for a short time. And sometimes I want to learn something that takes a bit more time and effort.
What is your opinion? How do you like to read? Am I completely off base?