My idea of lean prose is writing that does its job most efficiently—the way a lean athlete moves gracefully—affecting the audience more immediately and in exactly the way the writer intends. I don't link it any specific syntax. It depends on what the writer wants to accomplish.
Lean prose isn't necessarily specific to any writer, either. I've seen many writers use it as a means of characterization. Westlake writes leanly as Richard Stark because master thief Parker is coldly efficient. Westlake's other books are more meandering. The same can be said about Block's Matt Scudder series versus his other books.
One would think lean prose would be useful to thriller writers, to keep readers turning pages, but thrillers are often huge tomes, not fast reads.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
What is Lean Prose?
My comment on a Crimespace discussion started by John Dishon: