I’m hosting a guest post today for the “Hello, Love! (A Modern Love Story)” Tour. The book is a contemporary romance novel, written by author Ejourney, who will talk about energetic, specific use of language today. I’ll shut up now, and leave the word to Ejourney!
“Energetic, Specific Use of Language”
What makes for greatness in a novel? Maybe this is a question impossible to answer for currently published books because only time can tell. Still, I did read a book some weeks ago that I thought was the greatest I have read in a very long while (counting some classics). I will bet on its being among the rare few that can stand the test of time. The book is Shadow of the Wind, originally written in Spanish by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and first published in English in 2001.
I’m convinced that a large part of what is memorable and great about Shadow lies in four words, “Cemetery of Forgotten Books.” With these words, Zafón created a seductive idea, using them as the name of a physical, palpable entity, a place. The name is brilliant. Quite evocative and so unique that if words (or the idea they represent) could be iconic, this name would do it for the Shadow of the Wind. . It reeks of meaning and pathos in its allusion to oblivion, death, and endings, not only of people but also of books, an allusion that, to writers, could and probably does, spell our own fate. For, how many of us can actually trounce time and live on in our creations?
In Shadow, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is where the story begins but is also where it ends. Dust unto dust. The fate of our words.
Something else you will notice about Shadow: the story is mostly told, not shown: You do not get a description of events as if you were directly observing them as they unfold. What you get are characters telling stories, filtered through flawed or deceptive (or deceiving) memories. The young narrator in the story has sought them out in his search for truth. The last 150-some pages of this 500-some pages book are all devoted to the “telling” by a central character of what happened in the past that finally helps the young narrator understand the fate of a writer whose trail he has been tracing.
“Show, don’t tell, is a sacred rule writers hear from those who presume to teach writing. But there are those who challenge this dictum. A recent journal article, for example, starts with this statement:
“Spend long enough in creative writing workshops and you will hear someone say, “Show, don’t tell.” However, explanations as to quite why the writer should show us things rather than tell us about them are contradictory and unsatisfactory. ”—Peter Griffiths, “On Showing and Telling.” In New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, September 2013
I confess I haven’t read this article and as has been my experience with academic writing, it appears from the abstract that Griffiths “argues that the only way to really understand the question is to make use of research into the psychology of these ideas…
Ah, yes, more research. I’ve been through that kind of road before. So, Griffiths does not really give answers, but who can blame him if he finds none of the existing arguments or evidence convincing. He does apparently pay special attention to this now oft-quoted assertion from Francine Prose in Reading Like A Writer (Harper Perennial, 2007), a book I have read:
“…….the passage (from “Dulse,” by Alice Munro) contradicts a form of bad advice often given young writers — namely, that the job of the author is to show, not tell.”
“Bad advice,” she calls “show don’t tell.” Her own would be to read the works of as many great writers as you could because they illustrate what Ms. Prose holds sacred in writing:
“….the responsibility of showing should be assumed by the energetic and specific use of language.”
The reading list she recommends to anyone who wants to write well consists of great fiction by writers gifted or highly skilled at choosing the most appropriate words (the “apt word choice’) to express what they want to say, in the most economical way possible.
In the novel, Shadow of the Wind, “Cemetery of Forgotten Books” are four words so chosen, constituting an exemplar of “energetic and specific use of language” in the tale Carlos Ruiz Zafón told.
About The Book
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heartache and the specter of revenge follow when sparring partners spend the night together two days before he weds someone else.
A deliciously romantic romp with a good dose of realism and a twist of mystery.
A clash of wits, more than of wills, drives the love story in this modern-day pastiche of 19th-century romance novels by Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South) and Jane Austen. The main protagonists deal with messy feelings and events that could happen to any of us: The heroine, a bright young lawyer, confronts choices about career, abortion, and reactions of parents, friends, and men; while he, an alpha male, is haunted by past relationships, but with a sensitive, caring side that emerges as he woos the heroine.
EJourney is a flaneuse (an observer/wanderer) who writes about, and illustrates (oils, pastels, digital) what she sees and loves. In a past life, with a now-dormant Ph.D., (University of Illinois), she researched, evaluated and developed mental health programs.
Writing was her first love and she wanted to be a journalist but her parents balked at that. She was 15, malleable, and dependent on them for support, so she went into the social sciences, actually a compromise and preferable to chemistry, her parents’ choice.
EJourney’s first novel, Margaret of the North, is illustrated with digital “paintings” done on an iPad.
Her book website is: www.margaretofthenorth.wordpress.com for articles on books and writing, some reviews, and interviews.
For her take on art, travel (mostly Paris where she has stayed for months), eating, and state of being as well as some of her paintings, her website is Journey on a Limb at http://eveonalimb.com .
book website: http://margaretofthenorth.wordpress.com/