Sofie Laguna: On Writing craft

I watched this great chat last week. I highly recommend it for any writer for the great suggestions therein but I also suggest any creative watch this just to see the sheer passion Sofie Laguna has for words. This is a woman who loves books and it shows!

Here are my takeaways…

  • Avoid over writing. Provide the see and let it blossom in the reader’s mind. This week I learned (from Margaret Attwood in her Masterclass series) the terms Baroque and Plainsong and their application to writing style. For Plainsong, think Hemingway. Short sentences, short words. Why use a long, complicated sentence when you can whittle it down to its bare bones and show the reader the essence? Baroque is ornamented prose eg Dickens. Attwood says there’s no correct way, it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your words and probably the subject matter or genre. I think Plainsong more easily lends itself to what Laguna is saying here, but I am sure there are writers who use more ornamented language who never over-write.
  • Less is always more. But the more you know, the less you need to do. If your foundation is strong, if you have done your writing craft lessons, read widely, drafted, etc and etc, you build on what you know and write a good story. This must be what Stephen King means when he says the first million words are rubbish and we should get them out of the way as quickly as possible.
  • According to Nicholas Brasch, conflict is a disturbance to the natural order. Sofie and Nicholas both agree that conflict is essential for every story. Conflict isn’t just fighting, anger and violence. Conflict can be anything that puts the characters at odds with each other, their environment, and/or their goals. Considering this, Brasch mentions Chekov’s assertion that there are no small characters. Each character must have their goal and their role in the story or they are simply window dressing and will only detract from the narrative.

Just as I was about to close my eyes I saw a faint line connecting the shadows, like string you take into a forest so you don’t lose your way. Everything in the room was joined by one line; the frame to the curtain, the coil to the crack, the belt to the shoe. I closed my eyes and in the vision behind the skin of my lids I saw the line stretch way out to sea, like cobweb blown by the wind, further and further; it crossed the Pacific until the Pacific became the Indian and it found Robby in his ship. It touched his shoulder and moved across the sleeve of his shirt and up to his eyes and across the top of his head and then the line went to all the other men on the ship; then all the way back to me. Everyone was joined.”

― SOFIE LAGUNA, THE EYE OF THE SHEEP


“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.”

― ANTON PAVLOVICH CHEKHOV

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