One of the things that makes readers keep coming back to The Chronicles of Narnia, whether they are consciously aware of it or not, is C.S. Lewis’ understated but uniquely effective writing style. The words you choose to put on paper, and your skill in arranging them, has a lot to do with how your story is received. I’m afraid many aspiring writers don’t pay enough attention to this.
In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader we encounter a boy named Eustace Scrubb, one of Lewis’ most memorable characters. Eustace is an obnoxious little prig who has an awful lot of growing up to do.
But first we meet his parents.
“He didn’t call his Father and Mother ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’, but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and tee-totallers, and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open.”
Does that not tell you, in a very few well-chosen words, everything you need to know about Eustace and his upbringing? Is it any wonder that he’s such a twerp, and thinks so highly of himself?
No one ever beat C.S. Lewis for packing so much pertinent information into such a small paragraph.
Some writers don’t tell you enough, and so the story and the characters never come alive. And some tell you way too much, and bog the whole thing down.
I guess a lifetime of reading, studying, discussing, and writing about great literature wasn’t wasted on Mr. Lewis.
You’ll never be able to imitate him, but anyone who wants to write a novel can surely learn from him.