Thursday, December 22, 2005

For the Beginning Writer

One of the first things we have to say to a beginner who has brought us his M.S. is, 'Avoid all epithets which are merely emotional. It is no use telling us that something was "mysterious" or "loathsome" or "awe-inspiring" or "voluptuous". Do you think your readers will believe you just because you say so? You must go quite a different way to work. By direct description, by metaphor and simile, by secretly evoking powerful associations, by offering the right stimuli to our nerves (in the right degree and the right order), and by the very beat and vowel-melody and length and brevity of your sentences, you must bring it about that we, we readers, not you, exclaim "how mysterious!" or "loathsome" or whatever it is. Let me taste for myself, and you'll have no need to tell me how I should react to the flavour.'
~C.S. Lewis, Studies in Words, (1960)

2 Comment(s):

At Sat Dec 24, 07:24:00 PM EST, Blogger Martin LaBar said...

Thanks yet again for posting quotes from more than just the "most popular" of Lewis' writings. God's best at this season!

At Wed Jan 31, 12:50:00 AM EST, Blogger orthodoxkev said...

Oh Wow. This is the most awesome blog I've ever stumbled upon. And even more fascinating that I'm trying to teach a young student in the classical tradition I find this entry on beginning writing. WOW


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