Tuesday, January 14, 2014
All Parts Woven Together
A lot of blogs and writer's websites publish lists of favorite books for the year or ones that have been memorable reads over a lifetime. We all have our own personal lists for the same, whether on paper (or screen) or just a mental tabulation we keep in our heads.
Did you ever give thought to why those books have made these lists? What made them so easy to read and maybe read again? Perhaps the list should have a sublist--one that tallies those writers who wrote your favorite books.
I loved the quote above attributed to Nathaniel Hawthorne, born over 200 years ago. A lot of our contemporaries don't put much stock into quotes by those who lived (and wrote) so very long ago. What did they know? They lived in a different time, not worthwhile today is the attitude of many. I'd say that Mr. Hawthorne knew a great deal. He, who wrote The Scarlet Letter and so many more books and stories, spoke from personal experience. He knew firsthand that the writing of a memorable story was 'damn hard writing.'
You who write know it, too. You know that something that you write in a flash and comes so easily may be an alright piece but it's probably not going to live on into the next century. No, to write a book that will become a classic and a true pleasure to read, the writer has to dig deeper than many writers are willing to do. Some have the attitude to hurry up and finish this, sell it and on to the next one. Look at some of our most prolific writers of today. Danielle Steele writes an entertaining story but will her stories live into the next century? I rather doubt it. She turns them out like my grandmother produced biscuits for Sunday dinner. Well, maybe not quite that easily but you probably get my point. How about romance novelists, the ones who write those bodice rippers with the sexy pictures on the covers. Do you think any of those books will live on to 2192? Those authors churn out one book after another using a formula that anyone could follow. For many, it's all about the returns in bucks, not that they wrote a fine book.
Sure, some of the books I mentioned above can be considered easy reading by fans of these authors. But I think Mr. Hawthorne meant easy reading in a different perspective. The novel should flow well and carry the reader along like a rowboat gliding over a river on a Sunday afternoon. No blips. No puzzlement. No boring sections. A book like he's referring to might have poetic prose, fine sensory details, good transitions, excellent dialogue, outstanding plot and/or theme. In other words it should be a blue ribbon winner in not just one part but in all the parts that are then woven together to create a fine book--one that's an easy read.
If you want to write a book that qualifies to be that fine book that's an easy read, all it takes is some damn hard writing. Plan on lots of time and several rewrites before you achieve this kind of book. But if you do come up with one, all the toil put into it will be worth it in triplicate.