Novel Writing Tips: Let the Images do the Storytelling
Julia Cameron has an exercise in one of her books where she asks you to list your favorite authors and then write something you feel they would tell you as writing advice if they were sitting at the coffee table with you. So far, I’ve come up with 16 and over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of them.
I feel funny doing this, being an unpublished author. One dealt a setback Friday at that. But one determined to persevere regardless.
But as I’ve seen on YouTube, the Net is full of unpublished authors giving all kinds of advice about the publishing industry.
What I’m offering is a little different. Almost like telepathy. In someways I can hear each of these authors, and in some cases, multiple authors, whispering, saying, sometimes SCREAMING, their advice at me as I sit across the table taking copious notes.
“Keep the writing simple and let the images you compose do the storytelling.”
Now you may ask how in the Devil can I ascribe this to Earnest Hemingway, Arthur Ransome and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Read most anything from Hemingway. It’s simple to read. Easy to understand. But draws you into complex thoughts because of what he says.
Read Swallows and Amazons. The words are pictures. All of them. Simple scenes. Ones that sail you away on an adventure.
Zelda writes like this, too. Her letters to Scott. They lift you away with the purest of love.
I can hear all of them telling me, not yelling, well Hem might yell, not in a whisper, but in simple terms, Zelda might use a little Southern directness, but their point would all be the same.
Good creative writing is about putting images in the mind of a reader and letting them interpret for themselves the abundance of the details. This gives the reader a chance to escape and the ability to leave where they are and be transported to somewhere else, which is what they seek when they read fiction.
It’s not about barebones writing. I think I’ve learned that mistake. I’ve learned there is a balance there, too. Readers don’t want news writing, either. Not when they’re reading fiction. Just the facts ma’am worked in the papers, but it doesn’t work on the pages of a novel.