Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

From Mark Thwaite at ReadySteadyBooks:
"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."

Elizabeth A. Brown reviews Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Good Writing over at
csmonitor.com
Brown says, Leonard wants the writer to be invisible: "Good writing is not about the writer (and the way he sounds or the size of her vocabulary), but about the story."

Not for me.

For me, good writing is precisely about the writer and their struggle to write what they are writing (for sure, I'm not interested in the size of anyone's vocabulary!) Otherwise it is merely a story ... and I'm not that interested in stories. Or -- better -- I am interested in stories, but my interest is second to my interest in why this particular writer thinks that this particular story is important enough for them to write and me to read. A self-consciousness about the act of writing and reading needs to be folded into the writing for the writing in front of me to become more than merely a vehicle to carry a plot. Only with that self-consciousness -- adroitly brought about and not merely some clever postmodern intervention where the writer tells you (s)he is writing -- can I be sure that the novelist hasn't simple taken the general shape of your typical literary fiction novel for granted and merely filled in the gaps. If that is the case, the novel becomes artless, empty, and I quickly lose interest in ... yet another story. No matter how accomplished, a novel that simply tells me a story also tells me that the novelist hasn't thought enough about exactly what they are doing when and as they write.


Mark continues with a brief review of Dino Buzzati's The Tartar Steppe HERE

1 comment:

  1. Tracking John Updike's Foot Fetish.
    This is only scratching the surface! Some quotes from six of Updike's fifty odd books.He kneels to comply. Annoyed at such ready compliance, which implies pleasure, she stiffens her feet and kicks so her toenails stab his cheek, dangerously near his eyes.
    http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2013/10/tracking-john-updikes-foot-fetish-part-1.html#.Up9tyzYo6M8

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