Learning from C. S. Lewis’s Writing Style

A Papas cartoon in The Illustrated Screwtape Letters, 1979.

I have always been a fan of C.S. Lewis’s. Even before I knew enough to really appreciate Lewis’s writing style, I loved his stories and the way his books read. As I began to develop my own writing skills, I realized how well Lewis wrote. So, to find descriptive writing that inspires me, it does not surprise me that I find myself turning to something by Lewis, specifically The Screwtape Letters.

One thing Lewis gave his writing was his ability to show things instead of tell them. He aptly illustrates that in Screwtape. Lewis could have simply written a dense theological volume on the way he thought demons and such powers work on men. He chose rather to give his entry life, through one devil advising another rookie devil on how to tempt and keep from the right path a certain man, who is never named. However, the devil’s “patient” does not need a name for the reader to know him.

Lewis fleshed “the patient” out, slowly but surely, through the communication of the elder devil’s letters to the younger, thus giving the “patient” depth and form and keeping The Screwtape Letters from becoming dull. Lewis never stopped to tell us what this man was like. He gave him character by show, not tell.

I continually try to learn from Lewis’s writing style and apply his principles to my prose.

One thought on “Learning from C. S. Lewis’s Writing Style

  1. Pingback: 2 Weeks of Brief Literary Thoughts – The Flummoxed

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