Tag: John Steinbeck

Word Artistry

There are few things I love and admire more than words. Even used independently, a single word can evoke as much emotion and strength as when strung together into sentences: Surprise! Believe. Heartbroken. Bravo! Yes. No. Goodbye. There is power in words.

In the hands of a skilled writer, a carefully chosen sequence can paint a world as artfully as Monet, Gauguin, da Vinci, or Renoir. Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the beauty of words when given cadence. Like Baryshnikov, Astaire, Kelly, Pavlova—words have a flair and a style unique to their artist. The right words never lie flat on a page; they dance!

One of my favorite “writer stories” comes from the deGroot play called PAPA. One evening, a group of betting friends challenged Hemingway with writing a short story in ten words or less. On a paper napkin, he wrote, “For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” His powerful words—which in the true essence of a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end—won. Who can deny the beauty of a sentence, well written?

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean.

“The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world.” The Long Valley by John Steinbeck

“As Sonon strode through the evening forest, his black cape parted the sea of frigid air, leaving ice crystals swirling behind him.” People of the Black Sun by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

“On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky.” Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

“See, normal hearing aids usually have a part that wraps around the outer ear to hold the inner bud in place. But in my case, since I don’t have outer ears, they had to put the earbuds on this heavy-duty headband that was supposed to wrap around the back of my head.” Wonder by R.J. Palacio

“They found Seth Hubbard in the general area where he had promised to be, though not exactly in the condition expected. He was at the end of a rope, six feet off the ground and twisting slightly in the wind.” Sycamore Row by John Grisham

“Aiden Lynch slid down the steep creek bank, dirt crumbling beneath his bare feet and dust rising in a cloud behind him. He eyed the muddy trickle of water at the bottom and decided not to drink. Strange how a person could be so particular about drinking muddy water when he had come down to the creek to eat dirt, but nothing else made much sense in his life anymore, so why should that?” The Devil’s Paintbox by Victoria McKernan

“As I stepped out of the cabin, whiteness blinded me.” Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.” The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Each passage paints a world vastly different than the others, doesn’t it? It’s in the beauty of their words that we see the life within their stories. Artistry comes in many forms, but words are what touch my soul. They are as vivid as paints on a palette, as fulfilling as drink and nourishment, and as entrancing as the beauty of dance.

Words define us, even when we’ve not spoken them.

Originally posted at Romance Ninjas

The Masters

Writers are a unique breed, in that they seek counsel and advice at every turn along their professional path. Books for writers sell like hotcakes, YouTube videos on the subject of writing, or its inspiration, often top the charts, and seminars, conferences, and speeches on the art can normally fill a room with those clamoring to learn more, or hear how to do it better.

I’m most intrigued with those of us who seek out the old masters for advice and wisdom, such as Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Margaret Mitchell, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Jules Verne, J.R.R Tolkien, H.G. Wells, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Jack London, Agatha Christie, and, oh, so many more! Depending upon our chosen genres, there are certainly one or more of the preceding names whom writers consider godlike. Well, wait . . .  Does the age of the writer matter? Apparently so, because those mentioned had their masters, too.

Ernest Hemingway admired authors Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov, John Steinbeck prized the King Arthur stories written by Sir Thomas Malory, and H.G. Wells, who wrote what he termed “Scientific Romances” in the late-1800s (later coined Science Fiction), admired George Bernard Shaw to whom a great friendship formed. It is said that Jack London, later in his life, purchased plotlines from an as yet unpublished Sinclair Lewis, saying, “Well, I can’t construct plots worth a dam, but I can everlastingly elaborate.”

But what of today’s “old masters?” To name a few, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Johanna Lindsey, John Green, Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham, and again, oh, so many more! They had their masters, too. The great Mr. King once stated, “Without Ray Bradbury, there is no Stephen King.” Johanna Lindsey admires authors Kathleen E. Woodiness and Rosemary Rogers, saying they are the writers who started her genre. When author Nicholas Sparks was asked about his inspiration, he said, “I like to think part of my trademark is the quality of the storytelling, and that skill is owed in large part to reading everyone from Stephen King and John Grisham to Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck.” Ah, yes, the old masters! (Spark’s has a helpful writer section on his website at: http://nicholassparks.com/for-writers/ )

The masters before us affect us in many ways. Writers should take seriously the scrutiny of their final product, lest their footprints in the literary world be washed away by the next wave. Write a masterpiece, not just a novel to earn a dime! Use your talent the way the “Greats” before you have done. Write so that your name cannot be erased. Dare to become one of the masters.

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT: http://romanceninjas.com/smatterings-4-the-masters/

 

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