The Thinking Quill

Dear Reader Who Writes,

As I must always – please let me introduce myself. I am Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV author of both this loquacious and erudite series of lessons on ‘How To Write a Book’ and of the increasingly highly-regarded and hard to put down, soon-to-be classic in the genre of speculative fiction “Fatswhistle and Buchtooth”.

The formalities out of the way, let me tell you how I came upon the theme of today’s peregrination into the perfection of prose. I had ventured forth from my writing space and after blinking a little in the overbright sunshine of a winter’s afternoon. I found Mumsie seated in front of that obnoxious rectangle of recreation known as the television. By seated, I mean she was lounging as might a Roman courtesan upon the more well cushioned of our settees and by ‘television’ I mean a high-tech, high-definition, high-priced object which covers a goodly portion of one living room wall.

I do not recall what was showing on the screen, something with children and dogs I think because I was too distracted by the gentle burps and sniffles emanating from my maternal parent as she dabbed her eyes. “So sad,” she was murmuring to herself, oblivious to my intrusion. “So, fucking sad.”

Not wanting to disturb her evident immersion and enjoyment in some overacted televisual drama, I retreated back to the sanctuary of my writing cavern and realised it was time to initiate you, my beloved students into the dark arts.

How To Write A Book – Lesson 15: The Write Emotion.

You, my dear RWW, must be as a magician and a puppet-master. Your prose must produce profound palpitations deep within the psyche of your reader. You have only words with which to weave this wonder but fret not, for I shall make plain the mysteries for your eyes only.

The secret lies in the profuse and prodigious application of adverbs and adjectives.  Let dozens of delightful descriptors dance from your fingers. They shall be as the flash of lightning which brought life to Mary Shelley’s creature of parts. By that same magic, they will bring the glory of gut-churning emotion to your predictably flat writing.

Allow me to demonstrate.

Tears flowed from her eyes.

This tells your reader nothing of what is occurring within the breast of your beautiful heroine. Mayhap she was chopping onions or perchance these are tears of mirth. No, it needs the artistry of a literary maestro to tease out the subtle nuances that allow your reader to enter into the moment and feel as one with the character.

Like soft pellucid rain-drops flowing freely and unstoppably in the grim dark deluge of a bitter summer storm, slow and copious tears ran from her reddened eyes achingly, ardently and arrestingly, sliding slowly down her curvaceous cheeks, glistening as they glided gracefully drawn by both the gravity of this blessed earth and the gravity of her perilous situation.

But, I hear you say, sometimes I need to set the mood in a moment, what should I do then, oh sensei of the written word? First, I would chide you for your impatience and for selling both yourself and your reader short. You owe it to your art to take the time and the words needed to amply fulfil the emotional needs of the story. But yes, I hear you riposte, we don’t all have the effing time to dance around with all this fancy crap, Ivy. So I shall lift my hand in silent admonition and admit there is another way. The punchy, no-nonsense give-it-to-them straight style:

She felt shite.

I hope you have read and learned my dear RWW. If not, go back to the top of the page and start again.

Bon ecrit.

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

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