Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Observation

I'm reading Pat Conroy's Beach Music.  His prose is beautiful and full of descriptions of the South Carolina coast and the people who live there.  One of my major writing weaknesses is description.  I have to force myself to write down the images that I see in my head, yet I love reading them, especially those by Southern writers.

While reading this morning I came across this sentence as he's describing the home of a friend - "Four vehicles were parked around the yard, one permanently.".  It made me stop reading, not because it's a particularly beautiful sentence but because of what it accomplished.  I saw that old wreck of a car without him having to paint me a picture.

It was a perfect example of a writer trusting a reader to fill in the blanks. We're told, especially with short stories, to trust the reader, now I understand how.


Thomas Pluck said...

That's a good one, and the sign of an experienced writer working with a setting he's comfortable describing in evocative shorthand.
I love Conroy's novels and haven't read enough of them. Time for another.

Al Tucher said...

You and me both, Sandra. I have a blind spot when it comes to description. I don't like to write it, and I always catch myself skipping it when I read.

I have a couple of stories set in Hawaii due out soon, and I remember writing and realizing the whole time how far I was falling short of the reality of the place.

sandra seamans said...

This is my second time for Beach Music, Thomas. I read it back in '95 when it first came out - it's even better the second time around :)

Hawaii, Al? And you skipped the beauty of such a place? Shame on you :) But I know exactly what you mean, I do it all the time.