C.S. Lewis’ Literary Art: Narnia

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.

4 comments on “C.S. Lewis’ Literary Art: Narnia

  1. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own goodwill torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. ~ CS Lewis

    1. That’s one of my favorite quotes by C. S. Lewis … and oh so true as well. It would be funny if it weren’t so true.

    2. No one ever said it better.
      Why the American people consent to be lorded over by Marxist morons is something I cannot explain.

    3. Some of the reasons, I suspect, are that for some, life gets in the way, for others, they feel ‘the other guy’ will do it, and still others feel helpless to effect any change. In today’s world, I also suspect that few realize that calling upon The Lord reaps much!

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