The basic challenge for the writer can be very simply explained – it is to create an imaginary world and then draw the reader into that imaginary world.
All novelists are trying to do that. Once we get there, different writers may have different concerns. Personally, I want to entertain you. I want you to be thrilled or moved to tears or scared and I definitely want you to be on the edge of your seat all the time, wondering what is going to happen next.
The opening paragraphs from Hornet Flight
My aim in constructing sentences is to make the sentence utterly easy to understand, writing what I call transparent prose. I’ve failed dreadfully if you have to read a sentence twice to figure out what I meant.
I don’t feel that all writers should have my approach. There are many writers who write complicated, rather elaborate sentences which are actually a lot of fun. They might be comedy writers – P. G. Wodehouse, for example, does this all the time. With Wodehouse, what you are enjoying is the daft but entertaining way in which he phrases things. For instance, he says that Lord Emsworth wasn’t exactly disgruntled but he was very far from being gruntled. At another end of the spectrum, with Dickens, what you are enjoying is the richness of his writing and the way his sentences can go on and on.
By contrast, my personal aim is to write transparent prose.