I have read a lot of books in my time. They have ranged in styles and genres and so it can be hard to know your own. I have been writing since I was very 12, starting out with fanfiction because of my obsession with Harry Potter. I wasn’t sure what my style was then; I just wrote. and now that I am older and more aware of what I am doing and getting feedback on my work… I’m still a little lost.
I think trying to asses yourself, categorize yourself into a particular style of writing can be so difficult. I know I have always sought to evoke little gems of writing like I have read in some other books. An author I remembered that being the case was Dean Koontz, I read some of his books and although the plot was quick and thrilling I noticed he left little gems of beautiful metaphors, description or deep philosophical reflection before running along with the plot again. I am a sucker for little gems but they don’t seem to exist in that many books.
Reading numerous blogs from writers, agents and editors I know there are reoccurring themes in their advice. One of them is to keep your book to the bare minimums, don’t let it drag out. While I agree with this sometimes it can be hard to find a balance between keeping every scene plot and character orientated and providing a little metaphorical flourish. The key is to be able to slip one in throughout it and that is something I strive to improve, something I am aware of. That paragraph or just a sentence that makes the reader re-read it, not because they don’t understand but instead so they can savour it.
I have recently read two books from Latin American writers (one of them being Inez by Carlos Fuentes) and they blew a lot of that obvious ‘structure’ and ‘purpose’ things out the window. Yes they had plot, yes they had purpose but there were scenes that we’re artworks in themselves. They were poetic, it wasn’t about trying to desperately keep the reader turning the pages but instead it was a beautiful symphony of language and reflective scenes.
At times I felt lost but it didn’t stop me reading because I knew there would be an amazing use of language up ahead, a scene that would make me reflect upon myself. Although those book are a totally different style, I could just imagine people saying that they are no good because there wasn’t a blatant conflict-stuffed plot running all the way through. It is difficult to keep up a novel with such beautiful language, to mesmerize you into reading. I find that to be truly amazing because while conflict occurs in our life, I personally have so many more moments of deep reflection. Often I take a moment and notice the beauty of a bird in a tree, a father cradling his child or the eternal and ever changing sky. If I include those moments in a book am I just being wordy? I think it’s all about technique and practice. I have never been a bare-to-the-bone kind of writer but I also don’t want to add fat instead of meat upon the skeleton of my book, nothing excessive. I think little gems should be able to be taken out and still stand on their own like lines from a poem.
I see writing as an art and while everything has to be structurally sound, have purpose so you’re not meandering off into some tangent I also feel like we can’t forget those little gems. Little gems are what makes a reader become aware of what their reading, to take a moment to absorb the words with their glistening eyes and hungry minds and reflect on life and beauty.
What kind of book do you prefer, plot driven or dipped in description?
– Ermisenda Alvarez