Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Re-reading For Study

As recently mentioned, I've noticed a certain amount of sterility creeping into the way I write.  I've lost some of the storytelling aspects of the craft in my zeal to be that perfect writer.  By doing so, the tale itself has gotten less fun to tell.

In order to find ways to fix this, I've gone back and decided to re-read some of the writers that have had an impact on me.  I first went back and re-read A Call To Arms by Alan Dean Foster.  It's a silly little sci-fi book that makes no excuses about being a fun story designed for the amusement of the casual sci-fi reader.  I then re-read Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove.  Another fun story that let me become part of the world without interrupting the story.  Finally, I re-read the entire Thrawn Trilogy by Tim Zahn.  Once again, a terrific story that, although serious in its storytelling, didn't take itself so seriously that it forgot it was about enjoyment.

When I got back into these books, I noticed these writers breaking all kinds of so-called rules drummed into us by the traditional publishing world.  They told us instead of showing us on occasion(although not all the time), and many of them began by dropping us into scenarios of conflict without telling us why we should care; we simply did.  The flow of the book swept us into the narrative before we had the chance to ask the indignant, and, in my opinion, pretentious questions about whether they were doing things "by the book."

Character descriptions weren't done through lengthy paragraphs that described that scar down the person's cheek or that they were into 60s fashion.  Instead, we got to figure out what the characters looked like and sounded like by their actions and, more importantly, their words.  They left a lot to the imagination without chirping about it.

There was also a sense of grand adventure that so many "serious" works seem to look down on.  The authors made no apologies about being part of a thrilling tale that allows a person to escape the tedium of the real world.  They all said, "Come on in and forget about society for a while - let us entertain you!"

In short, I could feel the enthusiasm of the person writing the novel.  They just had to share the story, and if you didn't listen, that was your problem, rules be damned.  That's what I need to get back to in order to produce the work I want to produce.  I'm going to go back into my Homecoming prequel and apply this newly returned enthusiasm.

Finally, left unsaid up to this point but glaringly obvious, is that a good writer must be a prolific reader.  What you read doesn't have to follow a certain set of guidelines, but you must read.  Find someone you enjoy reading and get into them.  Figure out what style you like and go from there.  Without it, it's hard to get any sense of self because you've got no one to compare to.  Sounds great in a vacuum, but don't we all need someone to emulate?  More importantly, don't we need something to enjoy?

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