Monday, August 19, 2013

Three Writing Styles

STYLES of Writing SOUNDS & Silence

I have always read a wide variety of material, generally with little discrimination. I was as happy with David McCullough’s histories as with Colleen McCullough’s historical fiction. I eagerly read Charles Dickens and J. K. Rowling. Margaret Atwood and John Lescroart both kept me on tenterhooks.
Now that I, too, write, I am no more choosy about my reading, but I am more analytical. This summer I went from Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander, a naval novel set in the early 1800’s. To a repeat reading of Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, Volume One of his epic fantasy The Wheel of Time. To Cormack McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, the first in his Borderland Trilogy. Three very different ways to present sound and silence.

From O’Brian this excerpt:
‘Why does he not fire?’ thought Jack. The Desaix’s bow-chasers had been silent these twenty minutes. Indeed, by now she was in musket-shot, and the people in her bows could easily be told from one another: seamen, marines, officers—one man had a wooden leg. ‘By God, he’s going to riddle us with grape.’
…the Desaix began to yaw. She answered her helm as quickly as a cutter, and in three heartbeats there were her thirty-seven guns coming round to bear. The broadside’s roar and the fall of the Sophie’s main top gallant mast and fore topsail yard came almost together—in the thunder a hail of blocks, odd lengths of rope, splinters, the tremendous clang of a grape-shot striking the Sophie’s bell; and then a silence.

And from Jordan:
The back door creaked as someone outside, or something, tried to push it open. His mouth went dry. A crash shook the door in its frame and lent him speed; he slipped through the window like a hare going to ground, and cowered against the side of the house. Inside the room, wood splintered like thunder.
At first when the trees surrounded him, he took comfort from them. They helped hide him from Whatever the creatures were that had attacked the farm. As he crept through the woods, though, moon shadows shifted, and it began to seem as if the darkness of the forest changed and moved, too. Trees loomed malevolently; branches writhed toward him. He could almost hear the growling chuckles stifled in their throats while they waited for him. The howls of Tam’s pursuers no longer filled the night, but in the silence that replaced them he flinched every time the wind scraped one limb against another. He  hardly dared to breathe for fear he might be heard.

Then I read McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses.
Rawlins stood in the door of the kitchen and studied him.
You look like you been rode hard and put up wet, he said.
They sat at the table and ate. Rawlins leaned back and fished his tobacco out of his shirtpocket.
I keep waitin for you to unload your wagon, he said. I got to go to work here in a few minutes.
I just come up to see you.
What about.
It don’t have to be about something does it?
No. Dont have to. He popped a match on the underside of the table and lit his cigarette and shook out the match and put it in his plate.
I hope you know what you’re doin, he said.
John Grady drained the last of his coffee and put the cup on his plate along with the silver. He got his hat from the bench beside him and put it on and stood up to take his dishes to the sink.
Rawlins watched him go to the sink and watched him go to the door. He thought he might turn and say something else but he didn’t.

It was not the absence of an apostrophe here and there that most affected me about McCarthy’s work. Having just read O’Brian’s decorous and abundant language describing sea battles in the Napoleonic Wars with their hundreds of men crowded on ships amid smoke and thunderous cannon fire, I then read Jordan’s graphic descriptions of combat with fantastical, ravening creatures in a world where silence and darkness battered me as harshly as the sounds of raging battles.
And finally I read McCarthy, with whom I was unfamiliar. My reaction to the change in styles was sensory. I felt as if I had been struck partially deaf. He wrote a world where sounds and people are as spare and sparse as the nearly barren dry lands of the West Texas-Mexico borderlands. McCarthy led me through hot, open country, with few people and them slow to speak their few words. A country of far distances and vast silences.
Three very different writers using words printed on paper to build worlds of sounds and silences in my head.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Blog Hop

Thanks to Grace Wagner for tagging me.

1:  What is the working title of your book?
Murder on Ceres

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
My favorite genres are mystery and science fiction. Diane Mott Davidson’s mysteries were my especial favorites. Her characters are believable and engaging. Her violence is done almost gently. For science fiction, I am drawn to Isaac Asimov. He provides believable, thought-provoking science.
I wanted to present humans as I think they are likely to be no matter the technological advances of the future. I want my characters to be accepted as real people by the reader. And I want my characters to realistically live in what is to them the normal universe.

3: What genre does your book come under?
Murder on Ceres is a natural cross-over, a traditional mystery set in the future.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I’ve never thought of my characters as being like this or that actor. I will leave that up to the movie people, should it ever come to that.
No doubt, Rafe as the hero will be young and handsome; Terren as his wife will be tall and beautiful; Joe, the sidekick, will be older and ruggedly attractive. Mark, the antagonist, will be mature and charming. TePaki, the pirate will be tattooed and threatening.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In a time when Mars is the center of humanity and Earth is literally the Old World, humans will still be humans and murder happens.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agent?
I am seeking an agent.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Almost three years.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Vernor Vinge’s Rainbow’s End successfully marries science and character. His people seem perfectly normal and live normally in their very different world.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Carl Sagan is the who.
“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” Cosmos
I believe out-migration from Earth is the inevitable and necessary next step for our species.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Our hero must solve a murder and bring the murderer or murderers to justice. He must survive professional and personal disasters, some natural and some man-made, from the lovely pearl that is the asteroid Ceres through the vastness of space to the beautiful blue marble that is Earth.

Tagging more Writers:
This I cannot do without permission. So if you are interested in joining in, give me a shout and we’ll do it.