The Changing Faces Of Literature: The Writing on the Wall (Part 2)

by Lee Cross

(Guys I’m just going jump in right where l left off, so if you’re wondering where I’m at, just have quick look at part one)

Well the skill of the writer makes an obvious difference of course; the great authors can take you places you’ve never been before. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you’ll know I often talk of books in terms of ‘worlds’; some pens can take you to them, others can’t and that’s the simple truth of the matter.

Given that I’m discussing how we, the readers, see all characters I think the relative skill of the writer is something that should be put aside; with us moving forward on the working assumption that if you have been published, you’re a good writer, or at the very least, good enough.

Can the style of the writing make a difference? Yep, no doubt. You have the highly descriptive writers, Tom Clancy springs to mind (I’d swear at the end of The hunt for Red October I could have piloted a bloody submarine), contrasted with those who drive their plots with dialogue. I’m going to give a shout out here to Sergio De La Pava, who self-published A Naked Singularity, which is all dialogue (so much so that I wished the main character would shut his cake-hole for a couple of pages and let the goddam plot develop a little).

From Clancy, I remember Jack Ryan down to the starch on his shirt, not to mention the battleship grey colour on every bloody wall. From Sergio, I remember the point, even though I barely remember the faintest of details about his protagonist (scruffy, arrogant, public defender – that’s all I remember – the blokes name has gone completely).

I’m getting into it a little deeper than I intended and If I keep going I’ll have to remember how to spell Dostoyevsky’s name properly (I’ve no little red line there – so it appears I’ve made an inspired guess) and debating ‘purity of thought’ against the ‘constraints of language’.

So instead of blundering forward (up my own arse) about the deeper philosophy of reading, I decided to reach out to my fellow literatipulb contributors with pretty simple question,

“In a couple of lines, describe how you see these characters”.

I kept it broad, picking characters I know well personally, which I guessed people would have some opinion on – starting with Albus Dumbledore.

Almost the first response… “How can I describe someone in couple lines, when the author has had many thousands of words to do it?”.

Oh shit. That’s a fair point. How do you? Where do you start? …with your impression of the character in his first chapter…or your impression from his last?

One of the other contributors raised the celebrity point;- if you’ve only got a couple of lines to work with, you go Hollywood with your description and name the movie actor most suited for the role.

This response didn’t catch me on the hop so much, in fact it was actually why I picked out Albus Dumbledore…

[Go to part three]

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