ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group post - The best writing is understated according to Gene Weingarten..


Hi all! 

To quote Gene Weingarten, twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize::
'...the best writing is understated, meaning it's not full of flourishes and semaphores and tap dancing and vocabulary dumps that get in the way of the story you are telling. Once you accept that, what are you left with? You are left with the story you are telling.'

Another gem from Gene: All stories are ultimately about the meaning of life.

'...it must be about something larger than itself - some universal truth - and always searching for whatever that is. Sometimes, midway through, you realise it's not what you thought, it's something else...but it's always something.'

Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting this group of monthly support for all of us who consider ourselves insecure writers. Click on the badge above to read more posts...

  • What do you think? Do you take readers out of the story with too much description?
  • Do you look for a universal truth when you're writing/planning a story?



29 comments:

  1. I don't really look for a universal truth, no. Maybe I should start! I certainly take my characters on a journey though... Or maybe they take me on one? hehe

    I definitely have a problem sometimes with excessive verbosity, but I am working on that!

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    1. Hi Trisha. There's not that many universal truths and you'll usually find you have one in your writing, even if you haven't realised it. I'm not near as verbose as I used to be thanks to my love of writing flash fiction.

      Denise

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    2. Well, despite my love of pantsing, I do find that the main reason my novels get overblown is that I haven't planned them out, so have no idea where I'm going. But I do have a few novels that are the result of plotting...! ;)

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  2. Good luck with the A to Z Challenge. I look forward to your posts.

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    1. Thanks for visiting. I'm looking forward to participating.

      Denise

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  3. It's always something...

    I don't think I'd write at all if I wasn't searching out some kind of universal truth for myself, so I definitely agree with that one. And yes, funny how sometimes words can get in the way of telling a story.

    Excellent quotes for IWSG. :)

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  4. oooh too much description! Thank you for reminding me, it's my biggest long-winded problem. Like Denise above I think the universal truth is automatically there, it becomes more apparent as you write. See you in the A-Z!

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  5. Beautiful quotes, and I agree that sometimes those long descriptions can take me out of a story, although I'm not sure all stories set out to have universal truths, but sometimes we can find them within.

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  6. Some stories can be overwritten or drawn out with too much flowery description. I think a good balance is required that won't detract the person from the story or plotline. I tend to read stories with a universal truth but I'm open to anything as long as its written well. Love the quotes. Cool post!

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  7. I do the understated, after years of studying the masters I admire: Hemingway, Carver, etc. What the characters say, what they do. No flourishes to get in the way of the action. I also learned a lot about tight writing from trying to write screenplays.

    Excellent post, sis!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

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  8. I love those quotes... am taking them down... and it's true - when you take away the top layer, beneath should be a core story we're trying to tell... sometimes it's easy to get lose in the descriptions and lose sight of what we're trying to do - at least that's I feel sometimes.

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  9. Long descriptions? You've read my book - you know I'm not long on descriptions!
    Universal truths... that one I'll have to think about.

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  10. Those are great quotes. I really appreciate the sentiment. Writers try too hard sometimes.
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting so I could easily do the same.

    Nice to meet you through the IWSG.

    xoRobyn

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  11. You realize, Denise, that I am now on quest to google "universal truths." I was just now looking for one, too. No particular one. Any will do.

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    1. You crack me up as always Cathy. 'It's a universal truth that some people are born comedians'...

      Denise

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  12. Ugh! I just read Shatter Me and while the story was all right, the overblown (very, very purple) inner narrative was so over the top. And this was typical in like every other paragraph. Way, way too much analyzing what her heart felt like, her blood, her head. Sheesh! Just tell the story, why don't ya!

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    1. I wonder if anyone else has read Shatter Me and feels the same Nancy? Too much inner narrative is just so annoying. What's that about show not tell?

      Denise

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  13. I may have the opposite problem. I don't put enough into my work - description wise at least :-)

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  14. Flowery prose doesn't do it for me. That first quote should be taken to heart by all.

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  15. I don't think I'm looking for a universal truth, but you never know. Hum...

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  16. Oh, the Australian outback would be deadly to run out of "gas" in. And you say only one pic on my post showed up on your computer? Weird. But I was having a weird time getting them up, for some reason - yeah right, I'm not really good with technology. That is lovely that you say you and others would buy my childhood stories. If I can just keep them going . . . Yes, we do have our caregiver Cindy back. She got her heart fixed, and now she's really feeling great. Jen loves her, and she IS a good aide. How is the situation with Clark?
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

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  17. Hi Denise! I love these quotes. When I first started out writing,it took me awhile to figure out the truth of that first one. Now I know the real art of writing/storytelling is what ISN'T said, rather than what's said.

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  18. What beautiful quotes, both of them. I've been thinking a lot about description this week, as I find my voice for a new piece.

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  19. Wonderful quotes Denise! As a reader I tend to skim too much description- so there you get another POV- from a reader.

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  20. I bookmarked those fab quotes. Thanks for sharing, Denise. I prefer stories without a lot of fluff and with strong verbs to get me there. Unless I'm on an airplane, stories about something greater draw me like a magnet. There's always something to learn, to humble, to inspire, to imagine, to contemplate or to dream.

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  21. I never set out with a universal truth, but I generally have a theme that weaves throughout the book. I love description--but it's such a fine line between beautiful prose and insanity. Sometimes overly descriptive works seem forced.

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  22. Oh I like this one the best: ...it must be about something larger than itself - some universal truth - and always searching for whatever that is. Sometimes, midway through, you realise it's not what you thought, it's something else...but it's always something. It expresses the writing journey so well.

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  23. I suppose its possible I use too much description - but I think I err on too little. I get caught up in internalization and dialogue, and frequently forget setting.

    But yeah; my writings do have a moral question in them. I'm an old school epic fantasy reader, and those come with philosophy issues. My writing could get a bit preachy. That's why crit partners are so imprtant :)

    ......dhole

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