Is modern prose style too homogeneous? Who do you think has a distinctive voice?

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Is modern prose style too homogeneous? Who do you think has a distinctive voice?

– I’ve been thinking about this for a while and still not sure how to precisely formulate it… I have an aversion to recent fiction and it’s not about the politics or the story tropes or anything like that. It’s about what feels like an overly homogeneous prose style.

Like you could take random paragraphs from various contemporary authors, shuffle them around and try to match them back up with their authors and it would be really difficult. (Which would not be case for older authors. I feel like I wouldn’t mistake a Faulkner paragraph for a Hemingway or Burroughs paragraph, for example.)

I can’t help but wonder if all the MFA programs and writers workshops designed to teach people to write at a high professional standard are actually teaching them to all sound alike.

All those little rules like “show don’t tell” or “stick to one point of view” or “avoid adverbs” or “provide concrete, tactile descriptions”, “avoid info dumps” “don’t have a flashback within another flashback” “don’t narrate a character’s thoughts” “begin at the beginning” “don’t break the fourth wall by switching from third person to second person” are all fine as rules of thumb, but…

Fiction is about producing effects. The rules have to be in service of the effects. And sometimes they have to be broken to create the effects. I can think of stories that I love that break all of those rules. Conversely, a story can follow all the rules and still not be good.

Anyway, what authors do you love that you feel have a distinctive voice / prose style?

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Last update on 2024-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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