Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Writing Wednesday: Words and Writings

(With quick book reviews thrown in.)

I know that the last time I did a Writing Wednesday I also talked about words. But this time I want to focus on words grouped together, by authors, that become, well, prose. (I would address poetry, but I'm not very good at that, so it's just prose, and by extension, fiction.)

I admit, I'm a better writer than a storyteller. And I have found that, in writing stories, my writing skills fall a little by the wayside. I feel that as a writer, I can string together some very pretty words to really make the reader picture what I'm trying to depict. However, I do better at vignettes. Which is why the editing of my novel is so ... behind. It's quite a daunting project, because I feel so much of it has to be rewritten into what my actual style is. I was so focused on getting the story out, that I left "me" behind it. I've only managed to get the prologue redone and one scene. Sad, but true.

One of the books I read recently had very beautiful writing. The author depicted things in a new and interesting way which really kept me intrigued. Just a page in, I was struck by this phrase: "His face was weathered and brown, his eyes set in origami creases of skin." I LOVE that! Origami creases of skin. One of my favorite authors (though I have yet to read a lot by him) is Thomas Hardy. I have never read his poetry, but he infuses his novels with that same poetic beauty that just captures the pretty-word crafter in me. What can I say?

I did a quick search of my writings, and came across one of my vignettes. There's actually a little more to the scene than what I am posting, but when I look at it, I seriously wonder if I really did write it! It's so ... beautiful! *laughs* I'm not really tooting my own horn, more like wishing I could get back to this. I know, practice, practice. I really wish for my old RP days -- they helped my writing SO much!

So, a little snippet of what I once could accomplish:


That was the susurration carried on the wind, painting the evening sky with a thin glaze. Her dusky eyes stopped scanning. Her head tilted, trying to discover the origin of the gentle whisper which was now beginning to permeate her being. Words? No words were carried in the murmuring. Her eyelids slid to close, and she let her arms fall free from their own embrace as she let herself relax. Her breathing slowed, her chest rising and falling softly, and then her eyes opened in deft surprise. "Something," her tone whispered lightly in curiosity. Eyes narrowing for a moment, she caught her lips on a simple smile. "A willow," was all the indulgence her sweet voice caressed. She turned back toward the parapet, leaning out, the violet flecks in her eyes catching the iridescent, ivory fingers of the lazy moon's light.

The silent breeze ruffled against the willow, and her eyes caught the shadows, where she blinked in surprise. Amidst the phantasms of nature, there was something manmade, though wholly unaffected in its own naturalness. This was the something. She envied his position, if it was a "he" indeed. But how could it not? To be self-removed from such a party could only be a man's tolerance.

Her reverie was broken for a moment with a smattering of applause from within, so completely isolated from her now. "Are you the one?" she wondered in a hushed vein, recalling her earlier conversation with Anteak. She smiled mildly. Whether he was or not, the intrigue had been caught. Would they meet? Could they? If the stars allowed. But only wholly as herself. Decency required the staying of clothes -- though they weren't uncommon on her. But her hair, caught in the confines of the pseudo-refinement those inside believed in, was altogether different. More applause. With each swell she removed a pin from her glossy locks, and soon it sighed in relief to be set free, glinting in the surrounding light as it played on the nightbreeze, once in awhile caressing its length almost to her knees.

She held the pins in her palms, staring at them for a moment, before she also set them free, tossing them over the balcony, where they glittered like a school of silvery fish swimming in the ocean of the night sky, on toward their destiny.

With a lull in the breeze, her hair covered her like a warm wrap as she continued to watch the shadows....

And now on to the quick book reviews!

Merlin and Arthur by Stephen R. Lawhead
Oh, Lawhead. You certainly do love changing up the point of view -- no matter if it's in the same book. Overall I thought Merlin was interesting, as there's a lot more to play with, as far as inventing a new story. It was mostly told in Merlin's point of view, but then Arthur changed a lot and I didn't think there was all that much more of an interesting story to tell. Not to mention the ending just kinda ... ended. I know Lawhead didn't think to make this past three books (the first was Taliesin), but there are actually more, so .... It's okay, but I think I may abandon Lawhead. Don't know.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
This was an Oprah book club book, and this is the story from which the "origami creases of skin" phrase came from. Wroblewski's writing was just beautiful. So many "mundane" seeming things were really put into a new light. I like the book up until the "ghost story" aspect was introduced. It was so REAL, so vivid, so retro-feeling that I really empathized with the characters. And then a sort of surreal element was introduced. I don't mind it, normally, especially being a reader of fantasy -- I suspend my disbelief a LOT. But, to turn so drastically. I don't know, I felt a little betrayed. Like he had sensationalize some of it to make it interesting. Overall I liked it. But ... there was just that something that bothered me.

Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
Brian and I are fans of Card (not only because he's Mormon ^_^), and his Ender books are great. So Brian found this and gave it a try. It's a sort of "what if the American revolution didn't quite go as planned and the Native Americans really COULD wield some sort of magic and they weren't run out of their lands" re-telling of history. Apparently the seventh son of a seventh son is especially special, so ... so far the story is interesting, although there are supposed to be seven books in the series and Card has yet to announce when the last one is out.

Sorcery and Cecelia by Wrede and Stevermer
Ah, one recommended to me by my friends. At first I had a little bit of a time getting into it, because it's written as letters back and forth from cousins, set in the Regency period (or close to it) and so you don't have much to go on for character introduction, but I quickly got into it (it's Austen meets magic) and I was so sad that it was so short and quick! I definitely want to pick up the next one, and it makes me wish I could do something like this with a friend (the authors wrote the stories in bits, just like letters, where the other didn't know what the one was writing, and so on, they then got together in the end to flesh out things). So fun!

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
Another recommendation. I wanted to get Beauty, but even though the library said it was on the shelf, I couldn't find it, so I picked this one up instead. Overall I really liked this book, the story was definitely a new one and a very fresh take on the Sleeping Beauty story. However, the first few ... chapters, it seemed like, were world-building, and I honestly feel that it wasn't necessary. I don't mind a little info dump (maybe a couple of graphs), but chapters??? Also, toward the end of the story, the way everything gets resolved seemed a little ... murky. I can't quite figure out how the heroine did what she did. I feel it was poorly written, and a little lengthy to "save the day." I also didn't "feel" one of the relationships. It didn't seem realy to me. But, it gave me enough of the author to make me want to try Beauty.

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
I picked this one up because I love period pieces and felt that something Regency, without being girly, would be refreshing. Maybe I prefer the girly. I don't know, for having been written by a woman, it seemed a lot like a man. Does that sound funny? It's a mystery, with a murder having taken place (and VERY gruesome and perhaps I could have done without some of the imagery), but while the pacing of the whodunit was pretty good, I think the ending was a little bit of a let down, ONLY because, to me, the person that did end up doing, wasn't a character I had remembered very well. Maybe that's good, or maybe not. I had to go: wait, who was that again?? Anyway, I guess I don't think it's my cup of tea, but at least I'm trying new things, right?

As always, I'm up for recommendations (still have some on my list from last time, but finding them at the library isn't always an easy task).


jillyfae April 8, 2009 at 9:33 PM  

You do write pretty words, I've always thought so. :)

Per the Wroblewski book, I have a similar reaction to fantastical elements in books that I think have set themselves up too well as mundane, as in it just doesn't fit so it always kicks me out of the story.

I've read most of McKinley's books, and Spindle's End never really did it for me either, nor did Rose Daughter. They have the similar awkward twist resolution mechanics, if that sentence makes any sense. Beauty however, is lovely. I liked Deerskin as well, when I read it many years ago, but it's quite a bit darker. (Fairy tale dealing with incest, after all.)

Glad you liked the Wrede/Stevermer book. Mairelon the Magician and Magician's Ward are a set of period fantasy books that Wrede wrote on her own that I also quite enjoyed. I don't know if they're still in print though... if you can't find them, I could send you my copy. With a return box, cause I'll want it back. :D

(And I've never managed to get into Seventh Son, so I have nothing to say to that. Except that Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow are spectacular books, of course.)

Charles Gramlich April 9, 2009 at 11:50 PM  

I definitely think I started out as a better writer than a storyteller, but I do think I've improved in that over the years. I guess I better have improved or I should have long since given it up.

Anonymous April 13, 2009 at 9:19 AM  

Your prose is beautiful. I think your story ideas are great too!

Anonymous April 13, 2009 at 6:37 PM  

I really like your book reviews. How many books do you read a month? Are you a swift reader? Thanks for the reviews!

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