Which do you prefer? Lurid, fruity prose, awash in imagery and sensuous textures and colors? Or straight-forward, clean, simple prose?
I prefer straight-forward prose. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy an author who makes great use of imagery, but “lurid, fruity prose” reminds me of the romance novels I used to sort when I volunteered at a local thrift store. (I was especially enthralled by the several novels that appeared to be centered around handsome Vikings time-traveling to the future and ending up with smart, modern women.)
But I think straight-forward prose can be much more effective than something awash in imagery. I prefer specific, thoughtful details to pages and pages of detail. For instance, in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, there’s just one perfect detail that drives home the horror and the love at the center of the novel.
This is something, I think, I’ve developed over the years–recently, I was reading something online, but as soon as it started describing the main character’s “onyx eyes”, I was out. Not only because it was downright silly, but because it also reminded me of my also downright silly middle school poetry. There’s an art to revealing just the right thing at the right time to the reader, and I wildly prefer to see that discretion on display instead of a potpourri of detail.