Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Prose Thoughts

I was thinking about prose style last night, and I went back and started re-reading the beginning of my last year NaNo effort, If You Can Get It. I hadn't re-read any of the novel since finishing it. At first, I figured I needed some distance before I could come back and revise successfully. When I've first put words on the page, it's hard for me to imagine them being other than they are. They still sound like I meant them to sound. When I come back after a while, I'm able to see how they fell short of conveying what I meant them to, and revision become possible.

Re-reading the first seven installments, I was kind of shocked at how telegraphic the narrative style was. The first couple in particular were almost more like a script: all dialog with a few visual queues, but not enough description to put you in the place and very little of what the characters are thinking or feeling.

Some of this was a deliberate choice. One of the beginner weaknesses I was trying to fight is the need to describe everything, regardless of relevance. What do people look like, how is the room laid out, what at they wearing, what is the irrelevant stuff that happens between plot point A and plot point B? I recall that one of the rules I was trying to employ throughout was, "Do we need to know this, and if not, leave it out." That may have focused things a bit, but re-reading I think I took it too far and the narrative seems kind of dry and sterile as a result.

I remain divided as to whether to go back to this one and flesh it out into a finished novel at some point. Over the last few months a couple plot ideas fell into place which I think would improve the second half in terms of pacing and plausibility, plus sharpen some character conflicts.

However, in general I'm more interested right now in working up the WW1 novel that I'm hoping to start posting next year. Plus the challenge of writing a historical novel seems like a good place to work out the need for richer narrative description that I was noting.


Brandon said...

I find I can't really not write telegraphically in the first draft; there are just too many things I'm keeping track of, so getting anything down means getting down bits and pieces.

Lisa said...

i meant to comment here but think I left it on your last installment (reminded myself of the ending :) )

Loved reading it then. I'd reread in another form. I'd read a sequel if you had more story for the sisters.

Darwin said...


Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I do kind of mean to get back to it at some point and polish it up into some more finished format. I'm just not sure exactly when I'll be doing it.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I too hope that you'll go back some day and flesh it out. By all means work on the historical first. The first one will still be there when you're ready to work on it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments above. Yours was one of the memorable books I read last year. Just the other day,I was thinking about the factory scene and the handbags.
It's a keeper. Definitely.

And I look forward to the WWI one too.
Kathleen Miller