“Write drunk. Edit Sober.” – Ernest Hemmingway
I love this quote. Not because I wish to indulge in a drink nor am I trying to encourage anyone to drink heavily and call it creative fuel, but I like the idea of writing without the constraints of soberness.
At some point, every writer hears the advice: write without editing. Hemmingway’s drunken writing implies the same thing – that when we are free from the burdens of ‘behaving’ we do memorable things. When we write without trying to behave or follow the rules of writing, we create something memorable. Sometimes the result is fabulous…othertimes, not so much. But writing freely seems far safer.
That is what makes a story great – crossing a line into new territory, finding a new way to spin a tale, creating a plot twist so tasty the success of the scene feeds you for months.
My issue with this idea of free writing is the ‘free’ part. It’s in my blood to follow the rules. My creative mind does have limits – but I prefer to think of those limits as tiers of imaginative storytelling; the more practice I have the more freedom I experience.
It’s like taking pictures in this digital age: shoot many pictures, then crop, adjust the color, the focus and add text.
The writing equivalent to picmonkey.com is the red pen, a discerning eye, an honest writing partner and excellent samples of literature.
A recent scene I worked on started with blurry logic and unfocused placement.
Yeah, I know. Ick!
I took the scene and slowed it down, increasing the tension, cueing in on the focus and creating a much more palatable piece. It became apparent that I needed to include the main character in the description. Here’s the latest version:
What I like to have at my disposal are books of those who have bridged new forms of literature, strapping their ropes to the muse of poetry, the master of mystery, becoming a proficient fiction weaver. Here is a short list of books that have zapped my creativity to the next level. These tales have left me breathless and standing in line to buy the next book by these authors.
The Underneath, Kathi Appelt; A poetic masterpiece that changed the way I view trees, cats and hummingbirds forever.
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien; It’s a classic. Not a surprise that I absolutely love the rich language and description. Some say they feel bogged down by the length of the description. I like the leisurely stroll through the words…reminds me of Sunday afternoon drives through the country.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee; Opened the nation’s eyes to injustice. Opened my eyes to the power of a well-written novel. Plus it has a rabid dog, a recluse, and a spunky kid…what’s not to love?
The Never Ending Story, Michael Ende; I was given a copy for Christmas when I was in the seventh grade and I spent the next two days reading. Will probably spend the rest of my life searching for the book that Sebastian read.
Inkheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke; A story within a story within a story. Literary genius. Read it. You will not be disappointed.
The Shack, William P. Young; A difficult subject matter handled beautifully with the Trinity present in a surprising way. A self-published success story.
So, set down the drink, pick up a book and dive into the pages. When you pick up your pen let the essence of a story flow through without the restrictions of rules. Notice the scenes that slow down and up the tension, the suspence. Duplicate it in your own writing. Take a scene that rushes and do a frame-by-frame in writing.
Taking that into your own improvement, slow down and read great stories. Take it chapter by chapter. Then pracitce. The pay-off will be well worth the time and effort.
- Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – Better Late than Never (adiscounttickettoeverywhere.wordpress.com)