adventures in dysthymia

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Of Green Walls

One does not say, ”The wall was green.” One leans against the green wall, one is reminded of the green walls of some hospital, one even becomes nauseated by the bilious color of the walls.

One does not say, “Her eyes were dark and piercing.” One gazes into those eyes, those eyes flash at one. Those eyes need to be alive.

Not always, of course. At times, a bit of straight-forward description is okay. At times, it even serves the narrative. For example, in Roger Zelazny's “Nine Princes in Amber,” the protagonist awakens with amnesia. For the first couple chapters we find him describing everything about him, in considerable detail. Why? Because he is trying to figure things out, recognize something familiar.

And at times, we simply need to move along and can't spend time for more than a brief description. But we should ask ourselves, then, if it is truly necessary. Does it serve the story?

I find a lot of over-writing among beginning and/or self-published writers (and some more experienced ones, as well). I may be guilty of many things in my own efforts, but rarely that! Maybe being a songwriter for so much of my life has something to do with that, and I don't mean a long-winded so-called folk singer — I reckon if it can't be said in two to three minutes, it probably shouldn't be said. More tends to be self-indulgence.

My three Malvern novels were written to a pretty strict format, in an attempt to make them fast-paced adventures. There is little extraneous writing in them. Perhaps, I went a little further than necessary there, but it was an useful exercise (and I'm pretty well pleased with them). Other novels have called for a more relaxed approach, but I doubt anyone would characterize them as 'wordy.'

Speaking of the Malvern novels, the third and final, “Hero from the Sea,” is scheduled for an official March 12 release. The three books together come to around 180,000 words, making the series only slightly shorter than the “Donzalo's Destiny” books. Those four, however, make up more of a continuous story where as each of these stands well on its own.

I'm casting about for a compelling central plot element to hang my next novel (or series) on — I have loads of characters and events in mind, enough for a number of books and directions, but these need to be tied together. Yes, some folks would just sit down, write, and see where it goes. I need to map out my journey first!

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