A Writer Offers More Ideas About How To Write FictionA Writer Offers More Ideas About How To Write Fiction

I want write more about style, just continuing from the last article and with next suggestion.

Suggestion 7: economy of style. Think back to the old man on the barge from an earlier blog: "On a sleepy, sunny afternoon I was sitting on the banks of a canal, when a barge came chugging gently towards me." You can see it in front of you. But if I were to ask you, what colour was the barge, you would probably stop and think, "Well, I don't know! Does it matter?" Writing gives the immediacy of real experience - but is able to do so in just a few words, without irrelevant detail. You can see the trees shimmer in a Monet landscape - but a photograph can be flat and dull, because the camera does not pick out the essentials as the painter compels the eye to do. In the same way, when your mind is fed only the essentials, you achieve a heightened sense of reality. Very little is needed to make you feel that "I am there". The reality which you have created as a writer is different for every reader, but everyone gets excited and interested. Economy of style helps create the excitement, the "you are there".

To say it again, the remarkable thing is that you do not need to define much in writing a story. You need only to put in the bare necessities. Poetry has the greatest economy of expression. For me, the best of all is Shakespeare who can contain in one phrase what others might require a whole page to express so clearly:

´Young men's love then lies
Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes´
(Romeo and Juliet).

In a nutshell, good writing uses the anti-bikini technique. The bikini technique draws attention to the important parts without revealing what they are, whereas the anti-bikini technique reveals the important points whilst ignoring everything else. So should good writing.

Suggestion 8: word painting. "To begin at the beginning. It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched courter's-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles..." These are the opening lines of the greatest work ever written for radio, "Under Milk Wood" by Dylan Thomas, who lived by poetry and died by drink. You can do it, but you have to very careful not to turn into Rider Haggard!

Suggestion 9: consistency of style. This probably happens naturally for descriptive passages or accounts of events. But take care, because basically you wouldn't expect to hear a chunk of Robbie Williams in the middle of a Beatles song.

Suggestion 10: careful use of types of spoken language. Let's think particularly about conversation and how to write it. In my books I very often use conversation to carry the story along. There are of course many types of spoken English. For example, to play the piano in Pidgin English, as spoken in the depths of New Guinea, goes like this: "Big fella', black and white, bash him in the teeth!" Or as another example, at scientific conferences, most people speak IBE, "International Broken English".

The way in which people speak places them immediately with respect to their degree of education - and, in British society, their social class. "Dunno, mate!" is not what the Archbishop of Canterbury would reply if you asked him where the bus station was. But the old guy mending the plumbing might well say "Dunno, mate". He would not say "Well, I am awfully much afraid that I cannot recollect the location. It's not in my Bible" - which is what the Bishop might reply. For me, the best way to write conversation is to hide under the table and just let your characters speak. Listen carefully to what they are saying and take it down as fast as you can. For fun, you might try to write down a conversation that you have overheard. For example, in the bus in England the other day I heard two women arguing: "But it's my turn to sleep with Peter." "No it isn't. You had him last night". "That's not true!" "Yes, he slept with you!" Actually after a bit it turned out that Peter was a cat, but you see my point.

There's lots of other things to write about. For example the "Time Line." How do you sort out the writing when the story line diverges, and two different things are going on at once, but in different places? You certainly have to make sure about the sequence of events and remember who knows what and when.

And no article today about writing can end without mentioning the Harry Potter phenomenon. The Harry Potter phenomenon shows that people love books and that they love them more than ever. It's cool to read if you're a teenager. That's great for us writers. A wonderful world opens out before you as you open a new book. And if you can write yourself and put some people into a wonderful world which you have created, that is a happy experience!

(Originally published at GoArticles and reprinted with permission from the author, David Field).
by David Field
References and Bibliography
David Field is a professor of Astrophysics at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He has published numerous articles in many Astronomy and Physics journals. His most recent novel, The Fairest Star, the third installment of his Friends and Enemies Trilogy, has just been published. For more information, please visit: David Field.
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