Friday, June 24, 2016

Details and Reading
Fun With Quotes

So how, exactly does one have fun with quotes?
Glad you asked! If you’re like me, you start by exchanging quotes on a daily basis with your Best Bud. But not just any quotes, writing quotes, to give each other inspiration. And then you pick the two best quotes of the week to share with the rest of the world - because ... why not? :-D

I must have a word with Jamie and tell her to stop sending me such great quotes - it’s getting too hard to choose. ;-) However, after much internal debate, I finally settled on this one:

The reason novels were so thick for so long was that people had so much time to kill. I do not furnish transportation for my characters; I do not move them from one room to another; I do not send them up the stairs; they do not get dressed in the mornings; they do not put the ignition key in the lock, and turn on the engine, and let it warm up and look at all the gauges, and put the car in reverse, and back out, and drive to the filling station, and ask the guy about the weather.
- Kurt Vonnegut

Who out there has been guilty of putting in way too much mundane detail? Raise your hands. C’mon, be honest now. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I get it, I really do. You love your characters and your setting and you want your readers to experience the story the way you see it so you don’t leave anything to chance. But unless you’re participating in NaNo where you’re trying to write as many words as possible in thirty days, don’t. While you do need to use enough detail to make things real, you don’t need to detail everything. Too much detail can be boring and kill the pace of your novel.

Jamie says it best herself: ... everyone knows how things work if a character is driving, right? Everyone knows that if I say the character is doing something "the next day", that he/she probably ate and slept and dressed in between...

You want to use enough detail and description to make the scene feel real and immediate, but not so much that the reader feels overloaded. Give your readers just enough description to fill in their own details. The key is using details that are relevant to what you’re describing, that matter to the story, and that aren’t already obvious or self-evident.

I had some good quotes myself this week, and in the end I chose this one:

Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.
― William Faulkner

Most writers are already avid readers, but there are some out there who just aren’t interested or don’t feel that it’s important. I know someone like this and her writing is mediocre at best and though she has self-published more than a dozen books, they show no growth, no improvement.

Reading widens your skills as a writer. By reading what other writers have to say, whether they be classics or non-fiction or poetry, you gain a greater command of language, of techniques and craft, of what works and what doesn’t. It gives you an appreciation of style and voice and the unique approach of other writers.

It improves your vocabulary. This is true even of non-writers. It’s proven that children who are read to on a regular basis have larger vocabularies than children who are not. You can become inspired by something you’ve read, it can give you that push you need to move forward with your own writing. It will improve your creativity. It will help you explore and understand the human condition, one of the building blocks of writing.

In conclusion, you need to use details judiciously but write, write, write, and read, read, read to succeed as a writer.


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