I’ve been reading a lot of adult writing lately.

I don’t mean ‘adult’ in terms of risque, but rather adult in terms of that which is written for adults as opposed to children.

Honestly the line is getting blurrier and blurrier between the two.

There are certainly advantages to adult writing and I’m wondering at this juncture of my career, whether or not some of the topics I’m stretching my way into aren’t actually meant for adult audiences.

But I’m definitely not a fan of what seems to be the latest style of adult writing, where an author meanders in their own cleverness up one tangent and down another, and what? The reader’s supposed to go along for the ride? Thinking that yes, Virginia, there is a point to all of  this.

Problem is, more often than not, I’ve done just that, gone along for the journey and got to the end, and there is no point.

I felt like that when I read Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. Mind you I learned an awful lot about Indira Gandhi’s rule in India in the process of reading it, and it was good enough that I remember some of the characters, but really, the ending was so dreary!


Off putting.

And don’t get me started on adult poetry!

If you can read a poem three times and still not know what the heck it’s talking about, I think the writer is being deliberately obtuse.

Reminds me of the Oracle of Delphi, who’d couch his answers to questions in such a manner that it could mean anything and nothing at the same time, leaving the questioner to try and make sense of it, and no matter what meaning they came up with, the Oracle was right, because yes, THAT’S precisely what he meant!

Oh give me a break!

I’m of the old school. Writing should be clear and succinct. I’ll always remember this line in The Elements of Style: Never use a ten dollar word when a dimer will do. (I’m paraphrasing). Basically it’s saying to always use precisely the right word to get the meaning across.

And of course there’s the K.I.S.S. rule to writing. (Keep it Simple Stupid).

Adult writers seem to have abandoned these principles in favour of obfuscation techniques.

If you make your reader or in the case of movies, viewer, work too hard, they’ll get frustrated and go do something else.

By all means infuse depth. By all means play with words, but make sure you don’t get lost while you’re telling the story.

The past few days I’ve been obsessed with a movie called Gosford Park it’s got to be the strangest movie I’ve ever seen, and even though at first glance it might seem pretentious, it isn’t at all.

I’ve watched it now about five times and am finally certain of what happens.

I know it must sound like I’m contradicting myself, but I’m actually not. It’s the complexity of the story lines that makes it so difficult to take in on the first go round.

And all those British actors sound alike, dontcha know! And boy do they mumble!!! It’s almost as bad as that movie The Town. (Another gem that was very hard to understand because of the mumbling and thick Boston accents!)

I remember watching an interview with Jack Lemmon who said something about no matter what, an actor should always enunciate!

And yet something made me go back and watch Gosford Park over so that I could really piece together what it was all about.

It was worth it!

Multi-layered, and deep, deep, deep!

No wonder it won an Oscar for best screenwriting!

The characterizations are so finely drawn and the acting…wow!

And there are so many incredibly witty quips and one-liners!

And yet would average audiences watch it?

I rather doubt it.

It’s a bit too clever for its own good, and it makes you work too hard.

And yet I don’t think it would have been that difficult to make it accessible to even the average Joe.

All you’d have to do is slow things down a bit, and get those darn actors to enunciate!

Getting back to all the adult writing I’ve been reading has led me to the conclusion that there are an awful lot of people out there who can string a pretty good sentence together. That is they’ve got good technical abilities when it comes to writing, and yet their stories fall flat.

Reminds me of the American idol auditions.

They’re both similar in that way. From the auditions you could see there are actually a lot of people who can sing a particular song well.

But that’s not enough, in and of itself, to make them ‘American idol’ material.

They have to be able to perform!

So the writer needs to be able to tell a story and the singer needs to perform, writing and singing in and of itself, isn’t enough.

Maybe I’m stating the obvious. Maybe everyone in the world has already figured this out.

But it only just occurred to me, and I’m still asking myself if I have what it takes.

If my writing isn’t just pretentious words strung together.

I’d like to think so.