Storytelling today has become a complex business, full of laws and prohibitions. Transgress, we are told, and readers will be confused, dismayed, and disappointed. And yet the vast body of existing literature stands in violation of most of these laws and prohibitions. It uses plain simple storytelling. Its readers were not confused, dismayed, or disappointed. Nor would they be today with any book that used plain and simple storytelling and used it well.
Mark, your pieces here all make me think, but this one stands out. It feels like the start of a persuasive theme, and the examples work very well. It speaks particularly to me, since three of my four favorite books on writing all touch on this truth: that good writing goes beyond simplistic, pat rules.
The fourth of my favorites, however, seeks to define some rules for a particular style, the "classic prose" of Francis Noël-Thomas's "Clear and Simple as the Truth". After reading this book several times, and some exchanges with the author, I concluded that the classic prose style was an entity he'd named and defined himself. The patterns and characteristics he describes certainly exist, and have been assumed norms in various places over the last few hundred years. But he was the first one to give them a name and to set them off from other styles, with all their essential characteristics – scene, cast and so on. (In fact this makes it a great book about what any writing style consists of, not just a particular one. "Style" as the fundamental stance of a piece of writing, not a decor choice.)
I mention this because you've just coined a "style" in this sense yourself I think – "plain and simple storytelling". And defining such things thoroughly often turns out to be a big task, as Francis Noel-Thomas discovered. But I hope you'll try! I'd enjoy reading more about this.
Simple storytelling is an appropriate name. Since storytelling came first. With the invention of the printing press, storytelling became a mass market thing and publishers imposed their "rules" on it. Writers have been limited by accepted methods for so long, that breaking those "rules" is considered unacceptable.
I am writing a novel in "first person" (as told later, like a storyteller would, in novel form) and I wrote one chapter's opening paragraph in third person. I got called out on it right away. 🤣 "The character wouldn't know that!" I actually changed it, but later I thought, why was that so bad? It wasn't confusing. And it allowed me to show a scene that the main character wasn't aware of.
Ah, writers and publishers, and their formulas and rules...