“The great challenge in writing is always to find the universal in the local, the parochial.”
“I like looking at people’s lives over a number of years without continuity. Like catching them in snapshots. And I like the way people relate, or don’t relate, to the people they were earlier.”
Decoding authors’ craft secrets and “tricks of the trade” can be lots of fun to do and very helpful when it comes to improving your own writing. That’s why I’m really enjoying my reading club. We’re approaching authors from a craft perspective and exploring the techniques they use to create a sense of place and unique characters.
This time around, we tackled short stories by Alice Munro and William Trevor — two authors I’ve never read before, but thoroughly enjoyed. Between the two of them, there were a lot of artful techniques that caught our attention:
• Rhythm: the use of repetition and phrasing to create lyrical flow.
• Economy: the sparing, but daring use of illuminating adjectives.
• Perspective: the ability to shift point of view seamlessly.
• Transparency: a focus on the story rather than writing style.
• Openness: a willingness to take a stand and share insights.
• Playfulness: a bold approach to managing time and sequence.
It can be delicious and energizing to dive into the work of an author you admire and try to get under their creative skin. Not only will it deepen your appreciation as a reader, it can also give you new tools to apply in your own writing. And what greater tribute to writer can you give than your time, attention, and desire to excel? Write on!