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Friday, 7 June 2013

Gabrielle Rothwells asks "What works for You?"

As I sit at my desk trying to think of something to write I wonder how many authors are going through the same thing.  Do you sit at your computer and stare out the window trying to find the right words? Here I am lucky as I have a lovely view of trees and my garden which can inspire a good phrase or two, but other times ... oh dear.  Then I take a break to make myself a cup of tea and perhaps I'll pick up a book to read a page or two of a classic.  I usually find this works wonders and then I'm away on a roll.  Studying or reading famous writers can work wonders. I particularly love the novelist, essayist and short story writer H.E. Bates who was a master of two literary traditions - the romantic and the naturalistic.  He is surely one of the most prolific writers of his generation.  His output and versatility is astonishing when you compare the sensitivity and beauty of novels like Fair Stood the Wind for France and When the Green Woods Laugh, one of his very popular series of light comic novels about the Larkin family.  English writer David Garnett likened his work to a Renoir painting with its extreme delicacy, tenderness and fragility. I first read Bates at a very impressionable age of 17 and am still reading him today.

The other stimulation I need when writing a chapter on conveying the depth of a character is a favourite CD playing softly in the background which somehow will convey the "mood" or the atmosphere of the piece I have to write.  When my CD player broke down some time ago I was lost, but as so often happens, I simply had to cope without it and of course I did. 

 When I taught creative writing some years ago I would urge my students to study other writers.  I would tell them to read, read, and read, especially their favourite authors and compare their styles.  When I first started to write I knew little about style but the more I wrote (mostly journalism in those days for newspapers and magazines) I settled into my own style which was developed and nurtured over a period of time. We all have our own style. My mother used to often say "You can't teach a person to write.  You either have the ability (to write) or you don't.  Well, if I could count the number of times when I have heard her voice saying these words, usually after reading some junk I have written the day or night before which I thought was good.  After I have thrown said junk in the waste paper basket I tell myself - can I do this better?  Have I got the reader's attention because if I haven't the book will be thrown down in disgust.

 So this is what works for me and I hope something I have written will be of some help to you too.


Gabrielle Rothwell  

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Gay. Go out and read something else when you're stuck. I go to my how-to book shelves and pick up an old favourite. By doing so, I very often find a way through the mire. At the moment I'm re-reading "Spunk and Bite" by Arthur Plotnik. This is a humorous 'take' on Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" and well worth browsing. I've had a few kick-starts since picking up Plotnik's book and I would suggest to anyone who wants to spruce up their work, to read and enjoy.