Monday, October 1, 2012

Word-play vs. Wonder

We have talked about the voices of different authors--how the ink our each of our pens flows differently. How we naturally piece together words in our own styles. We long to write as another author does, but our ideas do not flow like theirs. Then the search is on  for our own voice. --We have covered these things thoroughly indeed and bemoaned the glorious burnishing of being slain by another's pen. But tonight I was thinking of the books I've read recently and noticing something about each author that is perhaps one layer deeper than voice...

There is a phenomenon in reading that I often come across: a book will wholly and entirely transport me so that I forget all time and schedules and am simply living vicariously through a character. I will finish the book and look back with one of two sentiments:

Either the author spun his tale and description so effortlessly that the story was conveyed to my mind almost as a a strand of vivid pictures without burden of words remembered
The sheer beauty of the word-play is a large part of what captivates one when reading that book.

I fall in love with each example in turn and marvel over the intricacies of that author's skill. Sometimes you will also find a good author who relies on a combination of both for her voice. My style is such a one. I have not yet mastered the art of completely making a person forget they are reading, but neither am I an astonishing master of word-craft entire. I am a happy medium between the two--perhaps not a protege, but a comfortable companion by the fireside on a chilly evening.
One book that I finished recently {With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin, [which I just did a review of over at my other blog] } took the first example. Her characters were so alive, her plot so strong, her story and setting so vivid that I hardly realized I was reading. Instead, I was living that book alongside the characters and when I was finished reading the text, my mind kept up the dance all night and into the next day. To be able to write in that manner! What a gift.
But previously (and currently) I've been on a Rosemary Sutcliff and Jenny Freitag jag. These are authors whose skill in word-play is a vast part of the charm of their work. You want to take the book slowly because each sentence is skillfully wrought in a way that might be overlooked if read too quickly.

One set possesses a vividry built of efficient, simple, perfect dynamo-sentences. The other paints with a careful, rich-hued brush, but both are distinct masters of their craft. We hybrids are a rarer--though still a magnificent--race who would do well to look sharp about them and study the techniques of these solid, rock-bottomed authors to learn how to wield both pens effectively and build up our own craft.

“It has been my experience, sir, that when one broods too much on imagination, he can begin to see the images of his fancies imprinted on the faces of perfect strangers.”

1 comment:

Kendra E. Ardnek said...

I'll have to say that I go with more of a wordplay approach to writing. I'm not one for description, but I love crafting sentences and playing with my words.