Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Telling Faster than Showing

The Read ...
My, have writing styles changed from mostly telling to showing since the 70s! 

The itch to re-read a favorite author plus get some books off my bookshelf combined to a Nora Lofts reading fest over last week-end.  A couple got quickly pitched into the discard pile, but I ended up re-reading A Wayside Tavern and Madselin, both of which I'll be keeping.

Yeah, Nora Lofts, once a very popular historical, romance, thriller author, mostly told her stories.  Yet, the two books I read moved faster than Green's Spies [on which I commented on in my last post].  Granted there was a lot of showing among the telling, but her writing moves fast for all she uses long sentences.

Part of this comes from her basically linking short stories/novelettes into books.  Maybe some of you will remember her House at Old Vine, a trilogy that followed the occupants of a house from medieval times down through the centuries to the modern salvation of the derelict house.  A Wayside Tavern follows this pattern, only it starts with the Roman retreat from Britain.

Many of Lofts' other books follow the normal novel concept of sticking to one set of characters, like Madselin, a single.  I really was going to read The Lonely Furrow triology, but couldn't find all the pieces.  

Yeah, she wrote a lot of books during her career.  Most of the ones I remember took part in the same region of England (Norfolk near Norwich and Colchester) so in one sense she took advantage of the series-writer's shorthand.  Setting up her background (stage?) and placing her characters in action.

I can imagine my critiquers remarks at my tolerance of "telling" over "showing".  The thing is Lofts sets up her characters with a problem in the first few paragraphs [plus their world], solves it, and leaves enough dangling ends for the next generation to be in hot water.

The opening of A Wayside Tavern as an example:  "'Deserted,' one of the men in the front rank said as the little settlement came into view.  Men sighed or groaned or were silent according to their nature and training.  Paulus strode forward to see for himself, and with a little sinking of the heart saw that the place certainly looked deserted, not a light showing, though within door it would now be deep dusk, and no smoke rising into the clear, frost-threatening sky."

I won't mention the differences in reading level between now and then.

Web Nonsense ...
Think I'm going to take the plunge on my own and see if I can get my Half-Elven site up.  At least I found a nice template.

Progress ...
Have been doing busy-work trying to get my agent list set up.  Time-consuming because not all fantasy agents take the same stuff.  I think I'll procrastinate this week-end and finish Tamora Pierce's immortal series.

Trivia ...
The over-grown apricot tree dropped two more apricots in last night's storm.  In contrast, it looks like it grew over five feet from the green shoots I see.  I think it's got it priorities backwards.
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