Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ray Bradbury and Concise Writing

So your faithful blogger has not picked up the Inferno or La Vita Nuova since she last wrote about it. She gives you no apologies, because she thinks people apologize too often on the Internet.

And now, on the greatness that is Ray Bradbury:

There's nothing I like more than terse writing. All unnecessary words have been snipped away; none of the sentences are weighed down by excessive verbage. Whole works remain lean and smooth. Precise writing reveals lucid thinking from a writer, and in this way Ray Bradbury is, if I may say so, a most enlightened writer. He must think very lucidly indeed to write an opening sentence like this:

One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.

One sentence, and about seven stellar images flash across my mind. Whew. And the next sentence:

And then a long wave of warmth crossed the small town.

Taken out of context, that sentence may not seem so nifty. But notice its contrast with the length of the first sentence; consider that Ray Bradbury, despite the opening paragraph only being one sentence, felt compelled to begin a new paragraph; appreciate the 'And then' beginning that immediately gives the sentence a definitive tone. Now the sentence is nifty.

Needless to say, I'm enjoying The Martian Chronicles immensely. I'll have more thoughts later, but I wanted to update. I like placing myself in the shoes of an admirable writer, trying to figure out why they phrased their ideas as they did. I like considering details of written works and acknowledging that each detail is the result of a conscious decision from the writer. Ray Bradbury started that second paragraph so soon for a reason - in this case, to show how significant that sudden warmth was (or, specifically, the cause of the warmth - a rocket's launch).

In short, I like taking things apart and putting them back together. I don't know if anyone will ever want to read a blog that consists largely of this type of word appreciation, but hopefully there is someone.

Until next time, happy reading!

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