Tag: victor hugo

victor hugo

Descriptions. What's your preference?

My neighbor is a big reader and we had an interesting conversation over the fence this lovely spring weekend. He doesn’t like to read elaborate descriptions. To him, an elaborate description is the gun on the tabletop in scene one that never gets discharged. He gave an example: in the thriller he is currently reading there is a scene where the protagonist walks down a long corridor. The scene is complete with a detailed description of the doors the protagonist passes, what he sees at the other end, etc. In the end, the man gets to the end of the hall and goes into a room. My neighbor read the passage carefully, sure that the careful attention to detail meant that there were important clues in the text – or at a minimum something would happen behind one of those doors. He felt that the description made it difficult to separate important detail from general atmosphere.  This is a problem for writers. First of all, no two readers are the same, so you can’t satisfy everyone. Some people like to use their imagination to fill in most of the details of places and people. A long narrow corridor. A tall dark stranger. Good […]

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What place makes for the best writing?

I’m peripatetic, finding many places in the house, on the porch, and occasionally in a library to sit and put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t re-think this. What did the greats do? P.D. James worked anywhere she could rest her notepad. Wallace Stevens and Emily Dickenson composed poetry in their heads while at work and doing chores respectively and wrote them down at night. (I know I can’t manage that.) Henrik Ibsen sat at his desk facing a portrait of August Strindberg, so that his countryman and “mortal enemy” could “hang there and watch” while he wrote. It’s tempting to come up with a mortal enemy, but likely not worth the effort. What if they didn’t inspire me? What if they intimidated me? Although if you have a mortal enemy who inspires your creativity, I’d suggest investing in a good portrait right away. There are a few examples that I think might be workable… or at least aspirational. Edith Wharton wrote in bed, tossing the pages on the floor for her secretary to pick up. In a nice parallel, Victor Hugo often wrote naked, after telling his valet to not bring clothes until his […]

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