Sunday, February 10, 2008

On description

Jenn Hubbard talked about description in her blog post on Ground Hog's Day. I should so have included this last week, but I, um, forgot. Jenn is one of those folks who tends to write less description than she sometimes needs, or so she says in her post. While I commend her entire post to writers everywhere (and her entire blog, for that matter), here's the line that stood out for me as a writer: "Description should not only be evocative; it should matter somehow to the characterization, theme, or plot."

Writing is . . .

If you're my friend Liz Garton Scanlon, you would replace the dots with sports metaphors. Liz co-blogged with the lovely Sara Lewis Holmes for a week in January, with their joint focus being on the physicality of writing. While I still don't think that writing comes from parts of my body that are not my brain, there's much to love about those ladies and their posts, and about Liz's Olympic effort in this post. I've been adding a bit of yoga into my days lately, in part based on the inspiration I got from Liz and fellow sports-nut, Sara, so it's probably not surprising which of Liz's metaphors really resonates with me (althoug the skiing is pretty boss, too):

Writing as Yoga

Practice: verb

To do something repeatedly in order to improve performance; to do something as an established custom or habit.

Meet the mat like you meet a blank page – as part of a never-ending practice. You work toward balance; strength; epiphany. The abolishment of fear and ego. Realizing the harmony of body, mind and spirit (or idea, language and story). You work to connect the single self to the whole wide world.

This requires endless patience.
And practice…

On Book Proposals

I may have posted this one before, but (a) I'm too lazy to check and (b) it's still a great quote, if you're in the process of working on a proposal (or even a synopsis).

"[A] good proposal tells a story and is most effective when written as a short story, a little narrative tale of perhaps ten to twenty pages double spaced."
From Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction – and Get It Published! by Susan Rabiner and Al Fortunato.

From Jane

In a letter to her sister dated 11 June 1799, Jane Austen was having quite a bit of fun — lots of silly digressions and funny comments. Eventually, she added this sentence, which, ganked out of context, works in other situations as well (as when one is having one of "those" sorts of writing days, or one can't seem to focus well):

"I do not know what is the matter with me today, but I cannot write quietly; I am always wandering away into some exclamation or other."

A gentle reminder to be on the lookout for the start of Pride and Prejudice tonight on your local PBS station. We will not see these particular "looks" tonight (nor will we see Colin in a wet shirt tonight), but in order to really appreciate them, one must watch from the start and build up lots of sexual tension.

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