A Curious Case of going back to basics


“Writing is not everyone’s cup of tea.” See? I told you, I just used a cliché there. Now that probably just annoys you. It’s okay. Some clichés are annoying. See what I did there? I just used 5 short sentences to pitch a simple idea. So, you agree with me? Writing can get a little tedious.

Writing is not difficult. Fine writing is.

You’re probably saying, “What, that’s a thing now? First we have fine dining and fine art and now fine writing?” Not exactly. Fine writing has existed since man could write. Fine writing got Chaucer or Bacon featured as canonical literature. Fine writing is subjective. It depends on what you enjoy.

Now, if you haven’t stopped reading this yet, I can assume that you are into writing and you probably have a decent collection of books. (Even if you don’t, it’s fine. You soon will.) Grab any random book off the shelf and read the first sentence. (If it has a prologue, skip it).

I just picked ‘The Good Lord Bird’ by James McBride. More like something I would read for my American Literature class, but…

“I was born a colored man and don’t you forget it. But I lived as a colored woman for seventeen years.”

Has it got you hooked? Do you have a vague idea about the book’s theme? What point of view are you using? Is it working for your novel? Wonderful. Great job, McBride – you modern day Mark Twain!

Let’s try another one.

This time I get ‘Charleston’ by Alexandra Ripley. Ooh, Romance.

“The wide street was quiet and deserted under the scorching sun. The leaves on the vines and trees in its gardens hung limply; even the birds had no strength to sing in the heavy, sticky air.”

Has it set the scene? Beautifully. Is it short and precise, while setting the scene? Most definitely. Do you have a vague idea about the book’s theme? Not quite, but you are intrigued enough to continue, are you not?

Since we are starting from scratch, I recommend the first step – analyze a little writing. If you liked a certain paragraph in a book, figure out what made it so intriguing. Do not dissect it to the point where it loses its essence. Read it once. What stays in your head after a while? A particular sentence? An image that was described in words? Could you hear the dialogue happening? Could you see the incident? Were you involved?

Please leave your experiences as a Comment. I’ll let you in on a deal in the next post.