When I stumbled down into The Bilge, to ask my Question for a Work of Fiction, I had only meager hopes of acknowledgement. After my eyes quit burning and adjusted to the dark, and my olfactory senses deadened, I found that not only had my boat question been answered, but I came across something I had not anticipated.
They don’t advertise themselves as such, but under the premise of ‘takes one to know one’, they’re not hard to detect. I quoted TerryLL aka Terry Lavallee a few posts back, and you tell me if this doesn’t sound like what you’ve read on writers’ forums and blogs:
“The danger in spending so much time burnishing one paragraph is that it shines like a jewel against the less-polished background of the rest of the narrative. It's often the case that the first two or three chapters of a novel radiate brilliance, thence to trail off like a dying comet, finally flickering out in some contrived ending.
The key to a page-turner is consistency, a plausible story, compelling characters, and a driving narrative. As for structure, let terseness be your mantra; pray for brevity. Words are a precious commodity; hoard them.”
Although his profile reveals only that he is in Textile Equipment Manufacture, I had a strong hunch he might be holding back. When I posted a quick excerpt from my novel (a sailing race), he responded this way:
“Authenticity is important in a work of fiction, as I've mentioned before, so you should strive to be factually accurate. But there comes a point, when one small detail is heaped upon a vast pile of other small details, that a narrative begins to sound somewhat like a documentary.
One of the most important vehicles to carry your narrative along, and to make your tale tangible and personal, is the imagination of the reader. If you leave no room for imagination, by supplying every last minute detail, the reader is often left on the sidelines, an observer rather than a participant.
Where is the sound of the sails flapping, the whistle of the wind through the stays, the cold spray on the face, the smell of the sea, the thump of the waves against the hull? You need only hint at the visceral, and then let the readers conjure up for themselves those sounds and aromas. When the reader can imagine that cold spray on the face, and hear the whine of the wind, then you have succeeded in drawing the reader into your tale.
BTW, lovely blog.” (oh, I meant to edit-out that last bit)
Now, you tell me—does that sound writerly to you? Inquiring aspiring novelist that I am, I had to ask. You guess right! He has a WIP, a who-done-it set in Seattle, and he’s 80K words into it.
In my Moaning Chair post, I provided a link to Norm Bernstein’s eloquent description (one I found by Googling “moaning chair”). Come to find out, he is a prolific poster down in The Bilge. In fact, back in early 2001, he came up with a plot for a novel about a terrorist cell in the US, and wrote the novel, his first. He was in the process of shopping it to literary agents, when 9/11 happened… and the similarities of his plot line, and actual events, rendered his novel probably un-sellable.
A good time for the Moaning Chair.
These are just two of the aspiring novelists I came across in my short time down in The Bilge. Many more writers co-exist down there—both published and unpublished. Even those without aspirations of becoming novelists often produce posts that are a delight to read (yes Mr. Left, I'm including you in the mix).
In your travels, have you come across writers in unsuspected places?