I know everything swings on a pendulum: politics, parenting, fashion, etc. Nothing remains static. Just about everything can be examined and change found throughout history.
Except chicken noodle soup, that remains eternal.
But the question is, how does that change affect literature? Tracing the path and growth of lit from the earliest examples of epic sagas to the evolution of flash fiction, can we say that it swings on a pendulum or is it more appropriate to chart its journey as a river or slide?
It might be safe to say that culture dictates the changes we see in literature.
I was having coffee with a friend the other day and we discussed how the majority of modern readers have trouble with overly descriptive and flowery prose. We came to the agreement that the modern reader can deal with that style of writing in classic literature because we know that the stories are worth reading. However, fewer and fewer books are published every year that can boast the long-winded world building of the classics.
Literature has to compete with the binge-watching of Netflix, the quick videos of YouTube, the snippets of TikTok, and the character limitations of Twitter.
The young readers of today are being trained that anything that takes time to get through is bad. Speed is everything.
The coffee discussion eventually turned to Atom & Go and the quick style of my writing there. My goal was to write a fast-paced adventure. I also wanted to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination. The way I see it, I don’t have to paint the perfect picture when you have the ability to flesh out the characters with your own thoughts and life experiences.
It was enlightening to find out that my friend had some very different ideas of several of the characters from how I saw them.
Be that as it may, it doesn’t answer the question of whether literature is on a pendulum or a long, winding slide.
I would posture that it is a pendulum. We have seen varying times in history where the massive world building of the Iliad or Lord of the Rings were popular. We have also seen times where flash fiction mirrors the short, serialized segments of 19th Century.
Each swing of the pendulum creates something new, yet subtly familiar.
I can’t wait to see where we end up next.
In the meantime, keep on reading, keep walking the dog, and keep on flying the Black.