Over the years, I have come to believe in the power of simplistic prose. I used to think that metaphors and similes and over-description were the way to go. I thought wordy was good. Over time, the more I write and the more I read, I come to realize how often writers who attempt all that begin to sound pretentious. It’s like someone trying too hard to be witty. I have found that writers such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, Leonard, Matheson and Koontz appeal to me more than authors who attempt to be clever with constant comparisons, or that try to describe every minute detail about every person and thing in the scene. I just don’t like that. Very, very few writers, in my opinion, have ever been able to pull that off. Most of the time, it comes off as a cheesy parody of what people think writers are.
I, myself, like a writer who has a good story to tell and just tells it. I used to try to be profound with similes and exact details, but realized I was burying my tale in drudgery.
Instead of all that excess, I prefer to write something like this:
Rory sat at the old wooden table, looking out the window. The world was still like a painting and he could see the cold. Drawing on his cigarette, he thought of how he and his younger brother, Ray, used to play in the yard. Back then the yard had been lush and green. Now, it was dead and scattered with gravel–even in spring. That was long ago, though. Today, his world was much like the one he currently viewed through the glass: cold, still and dying. A lot had changed in the years since he found that Colt revolver under his parents’ bed. He and Ray always liked to play cowboys. In the end, Ray had been Jesse James.
It gets straight to the point and doesn’t try to be profound for the sake of being profound. The comparisons are simple, to the point, and relative.