My head is swirling in ancient sacred texts, which makes it feel strange to talk about contemporary writing. The voice is so different. Even though the texts come from different times and places, the translations all have a similar feel. Certain words take on double meaning. Pronouns get used in different ways. Metaphor dominates. There is a flowery and poetic sensibility. Even if I attribute word choice to the translators (who have some influence this way), there is a uniformity of feeling from one text to another.
It just feels like there’s one way of talking about the Divine, despite culture, geography, and history. There’s a certain kind of language humans use when talking about these ideas.
There’s a lesson here for writers of any genre, in any era: read work in your genre. There is a certain voice that readers will expect. There are conventions in form and style. You need to know these things.
Now, with sacred text, there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room. Not really. Probably not ever. However, in every other genre, there are varying degrees of openness to changes in form and style. There’s room for genre-bending. There’s room for difference.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: know the rules so you know when you’re bending or breaking them. There are some times when a change will be refreshing to readers, and others when it will turn people off.
For example, this is why God talk is so similar across time and space – these conventions can’t be ignored.
Know the essential conventions. Read your genre.
With writing love,
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