Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Poet or Novelist?

Here's a quote from a recent critique I received-

 It pulled me forward as steadily as a cord around my waist would have. -Nice use of a simple metaphor! (By simple I mean it's not flowery or overdone, it's visceral and direct). It's especially good because there is something about 'chord around my waist' that implies a degree of coercion, of threat. However, I feel 'would have' at the end, does not work. Consider:
> It pulled me forward as steadily as a cord around my waist.
Hmm.. could we save more words?
> It pulled me steadily forward, like a cord around my waist.
I thought this was a great comment. The funny thing is that I think I worded it specifically to avoid the word 'like' since I tend to overuse that word. (When I'm writing a rough draft I write down every comparison I think of. I don't self-edit too much at that point, and then I whittle down to the very best comarisons, the ones that feel natural and just a teensy bit illuminating. If an idea is too profound, it often is a 'darling' and should be killed.

For instance, from my first draft-
“Get a hold of yourself, Lara,” I chided myself, as my mind sought for the hurricane windows, trying to bolt them down in time to face the storm raging inside my sister.
I even had some people comment that they liked the hurricane windows, but I realized it was something that my MC would know nothing about. But mainly is distracts from the story.

I read somewhere (I looked and can't find it again. Drat.) that Paul Simon was complimented that his songs were like poetry. He was asked which he considered himself: a poet or a songwriter. He said something like- If there's a choice between changing the words to fit the music or the music to fit the words, I choose to change the words. I'm a songwriter.

So, the metaphor may fit the mood or make sense, but it has to be secondary to the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment