“I love all of the great 19th century novelists and always have — Dickens, Austen, Trollope, James, Eliot. I love their broad, sweeping storytelling and mastery of language, but mostly I love the confidence of their narrative. We lost the idea of a reliable narrator somewhat in the last century, but I, for one, love to be told a story by an expert who knows what they’re doing and to be taken by the hand and led on a wonderfully crafted adventure. In my writing, I always aspire to be that narrator for my readers.”
Elizabeth is the author of the wildly successful memoir, Eat, Pray, Love and more recently, of an enthusiastically received novel called The Signature of All Things. She’s also an inspired speaker: She gave a TED talk about writing that was absolutely wonderful — be sure to check it out. Here’s the thing I admire most about Elizabeth: her enthusiastic love of writing. To me, this shines through whenever she talks about craft and story:
She admires and relishes the work of 19th century writers and their expansive, ambitious approach to storytelling — and she’s not shy about expressing her preferences.
She values mastery of language and appreciates it whenever and wherever she finds it — even in writers who may be considered outdated and passé.
She loves reliable narrators — the kind of storyteller who approaches his or her tale with confidence and brio; the kind of storyteller who embraces the role of narrator with a sense of respect for — and obligation to — the reader.
She loves “to be told a story by an expert” — someone who has a strong grasp, not only of language, but of plot and timing.
She loves to “be taken by the hand and led on a wonderfully crafted adventure” — she enjoys being a reader in the hands of a gifted writer who understands exactly what readers want: to be taken on an exciting, adventurous journey and who knows how to deliver on that promise.
She appreciates her readers and strives to give them pleasure by being the kind of narrator readers can depend on for a wonderful adventure — she has a vision of the deep bond a writer can form with readers and she aspires to be true to it.
Let’s take a tip from Elizabeth and let our enthusiastic love of writing and affection for our readers’ enjoyment shine through in our work. And let’s write on!