Friday, September 03, 2010

What words are for...

The thing that struck me the most when I was overseas was how few words you actually needed to impart meaning. Especially when people were used to your limited vocabulary and rather turned about grammar.
If you can tie a verb, noun and adjective together, and know about 600 words, you can speak and listen. Not well. You won't be able to understand a conversation that doesn't include you. There is a lot of gesturing and use of words like : "that thing" "the opposite to this" "the thing that is similar to this but rounder" and so on.
But you can communicate. Not just orders, or direction, but feeling, explanation and ideas. You rely on people knowing you well enough, and you rely on you knowing the culture of the place well enough for others to accurately fill in the gaps. But you can communicate.
So now we go onto writing.
Sometimes I will read something and I will wish for more. More in the way of words, of metaphor, of description that picks me up and drags me into not only the thoughts of the characters, but into their world and the culture of their world.
Sometimes I will read something and wish the author would just get on with it . Theme doesn't work well when its shoved in your face, let's just say that.
There are the same problems in my writing. And regardless of whether the book is written in an irritating way or not, if I like the characters I will put up with almost anything. Plot holes, bad writing, too much writing - whatever. You give me characters I love and I am there.
However, I do feel sorry for those who write for nothing else then communication of plot and character. Everything should be written for a reason. Absolutely. But sometimes the reasons are expression of a character through landscape, or for adding atmosphere, or for metaphor.
I don't believe you should go : Ohh, this would be a nice place for a metaphoric image. It creates a superficial sense. If you've read a lot, and have a mind that has something to say, the metaphor will weave itself in regardless.
But atmosphere and the creation of character through landscape can be done. And some people just don't bother. I think it's sad. (clarifier here - I doubt my work could be called brilliant. But I do try to achieve these things. I'd rather try and fail then not try at all.)
So yes, just something to think about.

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