Friday, February 24, 2006

When The Writer Is Seen At Work, The Writing Doesn't Work

Gary Provost wrote this in a chapter on subtlety. It's excellent advise. Here's something else he wrote:

Consider first the spell cast by reading. You're alone as you read, yet you hear my voice. You don't know me. I don't know you. But we're both acting as if the other were a real individual composed of flesh and bones. The words that I'm addressing to you aren't being uttered now. They were recorded months ago, perhaps years ago. I might be thousands of miles away. I might be dead.

Gary succumbed to a heart attack on May 10th, 1995.


Sandra Ruttan said...

Great example, shame about his passing.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

The author's presence has always felt to me as though it should be like subtitles in French films. After a while I forget I'm reading the dialog.

As a writer I want to disappear into the background, be that disembodied voice, or, if it's first person, put on the mask of the protagonist and be him or her for a bit.

The author's voice should be like a magic trick, leaving the reader wondering how they did it when they couldn't actually see it.

kathrynoh said...

I was talking about this with a friend the other day, about how the moment when someone says something is "good writing", it stops being that (unless of course you are in a workshop or class).