Ana muses on effective prose
Novelist Jon Hassler said: "I want my books to be accessible, I want people to just step into them and not have any barrier between them and the story — which means the prose shouldn't even be noticeable. But it takes a lot of work to make it not noticeable, I find."
When I read this simple declaration, I stopped to ponder what he meant by “the prose shouldn’t even be noticeable.” Jon Hassler is revered in the Minnesota section of the writing world. He had to mean that:
1. grammar is correct and unobtrusive.
2. words are chosen for their accessibility and plain descriptiveness.
3. sentence structure is smooth and serves the story.
Prose that serves the story. That doesn’t jar the reader out of the story.
That is hard to write and a delight to read.
The Writer’s Almanac says Hassler’s first big success was The Love Hunter (1981), about two friends who teach at a small Minnesota college, one of whom is dying of multiple sclerosis. When they go on a hunting trip together, the healthy man decides to kill the dying man, to end his pain and so that he can marry his wife, whom he is secretly in love with.
That’s a plot I wouldn’t want to be jarred out of.