Feb 3, 2021Liked by Connor Wroe Southard

Bonus points for "belletristically"!

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Feb 6, 2021Liked by Connor Wroe Southard

Thanks for the thoughtful responses. I'm always interested in art instruction, in how it works and what it can or can't accomplish, and you do a very good job here of spreading out how it's worked for you.

I think the point about how a novelist is something you are rather than something you do is a very important one: something that often gets lost in the discussion of a novel or a film or whatever is that it's made by a person (or many persons) under normal life conditions and constraints, and will contain the same sorts of compromises we all make in our life and work. You don't become an abstracted brain with limitless mastery of vocabulary and syntax when you sit down to write, and neither does anyone else. I think this frustrates people who set out to make art, and also who consume and review it, and gets set aside more often than it should.

For some reason, I know a lot of crime/mystery novelists (or at least more than I do any other sort of writer), most of whom revere Leonard, and all of whom have an uneasy relationship with his rules for writing. That one in particular feels more like a screenwriting tip (i.e. avoid dialogue that sounds 'written' when spoken out loud) than one for prose fiction. Though I always like to imagine Elmore Leonard reading, say, Moby Dick and just getting increasingly upset.

As I recall (I'm 35), you just made plans well ahead of time to be someplace at a certain time and then everyone just kinda showed up at that place and at that time. A last minute change of plans was either annoyingly difficult or functionally impossible. Very strange.

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Feb 5, 2021Liked by Connor Wroe Southard

What thoughtful answers, these were great!

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Great responses, Connor. I feel like maxims like Leonard's are misleading to young writers. It's not that your writing shouldn't sound or look like writing, but that it shouldn't be present as 'Writing' in the mind of the reader when they read it. Put another way, I often get sucked out of a book when I become intimately aware of the fact of it being a narrative construction while I'm trying to read it. (This becomes increasingly more difficult with a formal education in literature and writing, though.) It's not merely about genre, style, tone, and voice. There's a phenomenological element to great writing that's often overlooked, which I think you get at here. The best writers, in my opinion, allow us to be completely lost in a world or with characters that you forget what you're reading has been written by a writer in the first place.

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