I’m on the path to beginning a short story, of which I will form the plot, the setting, the characters, the conflict, and every element of story according to a plan. But even though I've moved past worrying about prose style, knowing that prose style is within my ability through careful writing and editing, I still face not knowing the most common readers' preference. Longing to produce a literary masterpiece, I would like to set down a short story saturated with all rhetorical devices, among which are rhythm, parallelism, chiasmus, and not only all other schemes but tropes as well. And therefore I ask you for your experience, regarding what readers these days delight in the most, seeing I wish to write not only a masterpiece, but one that will bring me closer to making a profit.

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    Literary masterpiece + profit is an ambitious combination, sadly. May 24, 2021 at 6:06
  • What do you mean exactly? that literary masterpieces don't usually bring in much profit?
    – garbia
    May 24, 2021 at 17:14
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    Precisely. If (and it's a big if; there seem to be many ways to categorise fiction) we divide all fiction into 'commercial' and 'literary' - well, it's in the name. The books that sell in vast quantities don't tend to be the same ones described as literary masterpieces. May 24, 2021 at 20:04
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    Well, I might want to write both commercial fiction and literary fiction, one to make money, and the other to enjoy crafting language.
    – garbia
    May 24, 2021 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


I, personally, as a "modern reader" do not prefer heavy and overly-detailed blocks of text. That is the main reason why I struggle to read classics and tend to gravitate to newer novels. Sometimes I might even skip over portions of text because I don't feel like it's very important or the author is just droning on.

However, I also don't like when things aren't described enough. Then I'm wondering how things work or which character is doing what, etc. I end up not knowing what's going on and have to patch things together in my head myself--which gets confusing.

I think if things are described in moderation and are interesting, it will be acceptable amongst even the most jaded millennial and teenage readers. It is very important to describe your world and flesh out your characters and things like that, but if you find yourself writing a huge, intimidating paragraph, you might want to cut it down.

I also want to add that you don't have to describe everything in one sitting. For example, if you want to describe your main character's appearance, it's not wise to describe everything about how that character looks and acts in "one sitting," meaning all at once. You can spread it out. This kind of pertains to the "show, not tell" thing as well. Instead of describing your character's hair and eye color, describe a scene in which your character is brushing their knotted brown hair, or another character comes up to them and gives a compliment about their bright green eyes.

I hope this is helpful!

  • Thank you. I learned some things from your answer.
    – garbia
    May 24, 2021 at 0:34

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