Harlan Ellison, he’s a writer. He saddles the language up and rides it like a bronco that needs to be broken. He whips it like a dominatrix on steroids. He seduces it, plays with it, gets drunk on it, and wails on it like George Harrison showing how a guitar can weep. What he does with language is what Picasso does with paint. Okay?
Me, I strive for simple precision. You know how Hemingway would write a sunrise: “The sun rose.” That’s what I do. Simple, easy, direct, to the point.
Okay, now look — I’d love to be able to write something like this: “As the planet turned majestically toward the east, the first intimations of light became a glow on the horizon, the first fingers of brilliance stretched sideways across the landscape carving shadows out of the night. The gray became orange became yellow, then white and finally that startling blue that dazzles the eyes and the mind with the realization that another chance to screw things up has begun.”
But mostly, I write, “Dawn crept over the horizon to reveal the day.” Because it’s easier. All that poetic, lyrical stuff is hard work. And you don’t always know when you’ve stumbled over the line of brilliance into overwrought purplicity.
And, to be blunt, I’m more interested in what the characters are doing and why they’re doing. That’s storytelling.
I’ll admit an additional limitation here. I rarely write about stupid people. Stupid people frustrate and annoy me. They’re not interesting. I’m not interested in neurotics or psychopaths or people who are struggling to find a reason to take their next breath. I’m more interested in people who are capable, who have goals, who have problems to solve or challenges to tackle, and who have enough vision and insight to make the journey interesting and the solution satisfying.
I like storytelling that demonstrates that life can be an interesting adventure.
It’s more fun. For me, anyway.