Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Keep it simple, fool

Today, I went looking for inspiration and found a couple of interesting writing essays from this article. One was Fairy Tale is Form, Form is Fairy Tale by Kate Bernheimer, and the other was How to Write with Style by Kurt Vonnegut. One of the common themes I got from both is, simply, simplicity.

Kate Bernheimer.
Snipped from Flavorwire
Bernheimer talks all about fairy tales, which I found perfectly synchronistic, because I just wrote a couple of posts recently about a novel that openly references its fairy tale inspiration. She says that "...one of the most classical forms in the world is that of fairy tales..." and that their techniques (flatness, abstraction, intuitive logic, and normalized magic) are often unfairly maligned for their simplicity and that we can learn a lot from studying them. Bernheimer suggests that dismissing these techniques belies their inherent power, which can be found in the bones of many literary forms:
"...fairy tales hold a key to the door fiercely locked between so-called realism and nonrealism, convention and experimentalism, psychology and abstraction. A key for those who see these as binaries, that is. Seen through the lens of fairy tales, many works of literature can be understood as literary forms sharing techniques."
Vonnegut talks about style and how less is not necessarily more. He reminds the reader that:
"...[T]wo great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote
Kurt Vonnegut. Snapped from Flavorwire.
sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. 'To be or not to be?' asks Shakespeare's Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story 'Eveline' is this one: 'She was tired.' At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do."
Both articles were good reminders of the basics and what pulls readers into a story--it's not so much the word count as the emotions, the ideas, and the power of the form.

1 comment:

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