Adventures in Reading

Bookchronicle on Reading & Writing
February 26, 2008, 6:03 pm
Filed under: thoughtful

I started writing a story.

I had one of those days, and I dare say we all experience them from time to time, that was purely cinematic. Anything funny that happened had perfect comic timing, anything frightening took both the character and audience completely by surprise, and everyone lived happily ever after. (Now, if only these types of days could pick up a Bollywood style – then I would be truly happy!) It was just a too perfect day not to write down what happened. In previous posts I have mentioned my creative writing past and it has largely been limited to poetry that I wrote early in my college experience. Poetry, I have realized, really isn’t my thing but before I knew it I had twenty pages of story in front of me.

What I intend on doing with this story is still somewhat undecided though I have spent a good deal of time clacking away on the keyboard and trying to tweak and edit. I even went so far as to “ask” my partner to read it and share his opinion. Regardless of what does or does not come of this story though what I have realized is that writing is definitely going to make me a better reader.

It’s regularly said that a good writer reads a lot and this seems true whether you are simply trying to improve your GSP or rolling ideas for your own book around your head. However, less encouragement seems to be given to the avid reader whom seldom or never writes. I recall a conversation in an art history course about whether or not it should be required for a student of art history to attend practical art courses. With English this is also true. As an English (particularly English lit) major you are inundated with novels, plays, sonnets, etc. to read and more often than not assigned some form of critical or research related response.

However, if you have never attempted to write a poem, a short story, a play, or a novel I am increasingly realizing how easy it is to under-appreciate exactly what the author has achieved. In my own recent experience, I have realized I am terribly at writing dialog and I never realized how difficult it is to actually write believable and interesting dialog. Trying to translate audible, real time conversation to the page soon becomes a sticky wicket. Like Hemingway do I just punch out the lines without emotion or detail or do I attempt to illustrate the mood and vocalization of that particular character? How exactly do you describe a voice especially without using other audible references?

Some people can only draw stick characters and others can draw portraits so life like you catch yourself checking to see if it’s a photograph. I assume writing, particularly fiction, is the same. However, whether you write the most bare bones story or an 800 page gothic melodrama, I do encourage (even challenge) any avid reader who has not picked up the pen (or mouse) to start writing.

[1] Grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

1 Comment

Writing a novel/story is, indeed, hard work (I suspect even for the “pros”). And I think you are right in saying that we would appreciate our favorite authors even more if we experience this difficulty first-hand and give writing a try. Gee, apart from what to write and how to write, I can’t even imagine how people write novels without the aid of a personal computer or even a typewriter (there are still writers who prefer to write with a pen). And how did they do it who wrote only with a quill? Wishing you success on your story.

Comment by onlyanovel

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