Wily Wilde

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde

Recipe for a great evening: a great book, great company, delicious pizza, and just enough imbibing to keep you feeling frisky and fresh. This was the mix we came up with when my reading/writing group got together to discuss The Picture of Dorian Gray by the great Oscar Wilde, a favorite author of mine. While some elements of our boy Oscar’s style seemed ornate and dated, we found much to admire from a craft angle, Here are some of Oscar’s assets we admired and might all benefit from:

Thinking big: Oscar took on an ambitious theme in The Picture of Dorian Gray: the relationship between life and art. And he was by turns bold, witty, philosophical, and tragic in his multi-faceted treatment of it.

Theatricality: Oscar’s is known for his witty plays — The Importance of Being Earnest is still hugely popular. And he cleverly exploited playwriting techniques in his novel to great effect. One example: the main character, Dorian Gray, remains “off stage” for the first 20 pages or so of the book. This builds lots of anticipation in the reader.

Mystery: Oscar hooks his readers and keeps them guessing by describing an influential book and a blackmail note — but never fully reveals their contents. This withholding of tantalizing information from the reader is an intriguing device.

Multi-tasking dialogue: Oscar uses dialogue in a host of creative ways. He uses it asElmore Leonard does, for example, to cleverly convey lots of information and character. He also uses it to explore his views with a light, often witty, touch — and to advance plot.

Taking a great novel and analyzing it from a craft standpoint can be super instructive and inspiring. Why not try it with some friends — and then write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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