Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Lot of Words Thursday :D

Crowding is what Keats meant when he told poets to "load every rift with ore." It's what we mean when we exhort ourselves to avoid flabby language and clich├ęs, never to use ten vague words where two will do, always to seek the vivid phrase, the exact word. By crowding I mean also keeping the story full, always full of what's happening in it; keeping it moving, not slacking and wandering into irrelevancies; keeping it interconnected with itself, rich with echoes forward and backward. Vivid, exact, concrete, accurate, dense, rich: these adjectives describe a prose that is crowded with sensations, meanings, and implications. 

But leaping is just as important. What you leap over is what you leave out. And what you leave out is infinitely more than what you leave in. There's got to be white space around the word, silence around the voice. Listng is not describing. Only the relevant belongs. Some say God is in the details; some say the Devil is in the details. Both are correct. ... Tactically speaking, I'd say go ahead and crowd in the first draft — put everything in. Then in revising decide what counts, what tells; and cut and recombine till what's left is what counts. Leap boldly. 

— Ursula LeGuin


9 comments:

Christine Fonseca said...

That revision angst cartoon....bloody brilliant! LOVE IT.

lbdiamond said...

Love the quote AND the cartoon!! It's so perfect.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Hmmm.. always tricky, getting the balance right.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Hmm, I've never heard this concept called "leaping" before, but I love the analogy. Sounds like a great thing to keep in mind while revising, something that will help us to murder our darlings for the sake of a little mystery. After all, sometimes leaving things out makes the reader work for important discoveries. And as a reader, I love/hate it when I can't put a book down for this reason.

Great quote, Michelle!

Melissa said...

I freaking love the revision angst cartoon!!!!

The Golden Eagle said...

Did you take my picture? Because that looks like what I do when I'm trying to revise. :D

TK Richardson said...

This is exactly what I'm going through right now! *arg!* And I love the cartoon! It looks like me, too- minus the fifty two cups of coffee on my desk! :)

Matthew Rush said...

It's hard to let your darlings go sometimes ... but worth it in the end.

Elana Johnson said...

Ha ha! I try not to angst. But yeah. I do.