Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Novelist's Eye

In my last post I spoke about research and the importance of it to me as a writer. But what I failed to highlight was knowing when to stop. It is too easy to keep researching and avoid writing using the excuse 'I must just find out...' As with all writing it is fine art working out when to stop. Nicola Morgan has written a brilliant post on this in her blog Help! I need a Publisher which I would recommend a visit to.

Coming back from London yesterday I used the train journey to dip once again into Edmund de Waal's THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES which I have been reading and enjoying since before Christmas. As I was reading it yesterday De Waal used the term 'with a novelist's eye' and that started me thinking - as writers do we look at the world through a novelist's eye? I wondered what it was. I don't think it can just be someone who is more observant as that can't be confined to writers. So it has to be more than that.

To try and answer this I started to think about my own writing processes and where I get ideas from. I have several notebooks full of short sentences, single words or even paragraph long observations. These are things that have suddenly appeared and sparked an idea which needs to be noted. These can be anything from the colours of a particularly rich sunset to the feelings felt at a certain moment. This is the reason why I carry a notebook with me the whole time and tell my students to do the same. Inspiration can appear at the most inconvenient moments. What I mean by this is not just when you are in the bath or driving but at other totally inappropriate moments. For example I know that on several occasions which have been traumatic or particularly emotional there is this voice in my head that is saying 'remember this it could be useful.' Sometimes I am quite embarrassed by the unfortunate timing of this voice. Luckily for me no one else hears it.

I think that it is not just a novelist's eye, I would suggest that it is all five senses that the novelist uses to enrich and enhance their writing. Every part of our lives past and present may be the source of texture in our writing. It brings it alive. However, I do like the term 'the novelist eye' and it is one I will use to describe that voice in my head as it says 'look at that,' 'remember that feeling,' 'what does that smell like,' 'did you hear that,' etc

So may your 'novelist's eye' bring you lots of inspirations and notebooks full of ideas that lead to wonderfully rich narratives.

1 comment:

  1. It's a lovely expression - but you're right, writing is about using all the senses to explore and describe the world - and to view it broadly and beyond just the obvious.