April 21, 2014

Writing as though Speaking

Dear M,

Some authors write as though they are speaking to us, even when the narrative is in third person. As though they are sitting right across the table from us, and telling us what had happened. It seems so effortless, however we know it isn't. There is an appropriate mix of stream of consciousness and the global third person view. It feels as though we aren't reading, we are listening.

I think that is a more modernistic style of writing; by modern I mean early-ish twentieth century. Probably. I am not all that interested in studying when this evolved or when that was founded. (Perhaps I should, though.)

I am interested in understanding how they wrote those, how they conceived the idea, how they prepared their notes which eventually formed this shape that I now hold in my hands.

I read somewhere about one exercise that some writers have done early in their youth. They copy down the writing of their favourite authors, a few lines each day. Writing, as we know, is the best way to memorise anything. And by memorise we don't mean we are going to plagiarise their work. It is a way to decipher their writing, to understand what they have done. And to improvise on anything, the first thing to do is get the basics right. Know the rules, then break them.


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