Friday, April 24, 2015

A Writing Hint I Learned From Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy
Maeve Binchy

I've beem reading a book of Maeve Binchy's columns that she wrote for The Irish Times newspaper over the years. This beloved Irish novelist wrote for the newspaper for a long time. The title of the book is Maeve's Times with a subtitle In Her Own Words. She wrote her columns with the same warmth, wit and humor that characterize her many successful novels. She died in 2012 and had one novel published posthumously, and now this collection of her columns. I have so enjoyed seeing life through her eyes as I read.

Last night, I ran across one of the columns that dealt with the craft of writing. That is the one I'd like to share with you today. The column's title is Develop Your Own Style.  The gist of the whole article is that writers should write as they talk, not try to use flowery or impressive language. She says that we don't have to use elaborate and complicated words. 

She gives an example of one youg woman's offering and then her own suggestion as to how to say it in a different manner. The young woman wrote the following sentence:

Untimely fingers of frost in what should have been the sesaon of mists and mellow fruitfulness nipped Ann O'Leary as with furrowed mien she proceeded from the domestic portals and directed her steps to the main thoroughfare. 

Maeve goes on:

"She was trying to say It was a cold autumn day when a worried looking Ann O'Leary left her house...or something like that."

It appears that the young woman was attempting to write literary fiction style while Ms. Binchy suggests writing in the way we talk to one another each and every day. Perhaps there is a place for both or a happy medium. For me, the way Maeve Binchy writes speaks to me. I feel like I might be at lunch with her and she's telling me a story. She's real people! I much prefer her style to the flowery language of the first example.

Which style of writing can you, as a reader, relate to better? Which one appeals to you as a reader the most? Which type of sentence would you choose to use as a writer? 

It's possible that you choose the one that is going to speak to the audience you seek. It seems to me that Maeve Binchy made the right choice. Would she have been as successful if she wrote her books like the young woman's sample sentence. I think not.

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