Friday, January 27, 2012

In search of elegance

According to conventional wisdom among scientists, a good theory has elegance. The same can be said for writers. A good book has elegance.

Mark Twain destroyed James Fenmore Cooper's works. He ridiculed Cooper's style and technical ability with what would amount to Kanye West grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift's hands (or whatever their names are, I just remember the moment, not the singers) at the Grammys and declaring that she didn't deserve the award. Yet Cooper's books were elegant. There was a beauty to the art. He brought the power and grace of the American Indian to the page unlike anyone had prior. And the fact that the true heroes of his books were Indians, while Twain made them the villains of his, has to put some doubt in the minds of anyone who blindly rushes to accept Twain's view of Cooper's craft.

Elegance isn't easy. I think I've achieved it in the past, but I think I'm lacking in some in parts of my MS. My problem is that the need to move the plot along overshadows the need for elegance. However, I plan to go back and smooth out those parts as best I can to bring a bit of the waltz to the break dance.

What brings about elegance in a novel, one might ask. Simply put, it's the flow of one thought to the next. One scene needs to logically bring about the next, and so forth. I believe the writer allows himself more latitude than the reader in that respect. That means the writer should overcompensate a bit. Not so much that half a chapter is wasted on transition, but enough that the reader follows the line of logic.  

On a lighter note:

Arlene put this blog in hers as part of one of those blog versions of chain letters. I'm supposed to nominate five blogs on here for my favorites. Well, I really only visit three regularly. One is Arlene's, one is Barbara's, and one is Jean's. The links are in the sidebar.

I've had a lot of friends in my life, thought most of them I no longer converse with on a regular basis, if at all. The ones I do keep in touch with are wonderful people, but they're not authors. They are great in person, but the written word eludes them. And, unfortunately, most of them are in Pittsburgh, or places like that. Too far to drive in one night and be home in time for supper. So, we e-mail each other periodically, some of us daily, but the people I've grown closest to are the authors I exchange blog comments with. Being authors, they express themselves far better than my friends or family does, which makes them more interesting over the Ethernet. What a strange world we've devised for ourselves.

As reclusive as I am, I thank God every night for this medium that allows me to communicate with people I would've never been in touch with if technology wasn't what it is today.


  1. I'm with you, Fred. It's not just the communication, much as I might wail against Google at times, it has completely opened up the world for me. Whatever I need to know about the penii of whales - it's there.

  2. It's not just checking out the package on a whale, it's also feeling connected to others who, even if we never meet in person, know us more throughly than the people around us who arent trying to pull fickin' impossible worlds out of our heads.
    It's that bond of selfishness, suffering, acheiving the impossible that only writers involved in each others stories, from a blank page to abortion, filicide, maybe even birth, exposing us to each other either deranged, brillant, need edited, but accepted regardless of how lame, way.
    I wouldnt be anywhere without you guys, and sometimes I think of pearls of sands, cuban revolutions, black holes, dipping into another's dreams at the strangest moments, feeling close despite the miles.

  3. All hail the internet which allows us to connect with each other, share our frustrations, epiphanies and accomplishments (and check out whale penii whenever the whim...err...need strikes).

    Elegantly connecting those scene dots can be a challenge. I wish you luck.