Merry Christmas! Today’s the last day of our book review and tips… day ten of ten. I like writing things like this, but I think I’m better at going into more relatable problems in writing.
Since I’m editing, this was sort of way to go back and check on all of our stories. By looking at things in successful books, we can see if we are doing something wrong. And remember, just because we might do something differently from all of those successful and famous authors doesn’t mean it is wrong. It’s just different. And that’s good.
That’s why we write. To make us happy. And most of the time it isn’t fun if we are just copying others in order to make our stories better.
So let’s get to the review. And the tips. I started off these ten days of writing tips from books with one of my favorite books, so I’m going to end with one of my favorites. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was a school assignment, again, in the same summer as Parallel Journeys. This one I did love at first and I still do. The writing is mesmerizing and I still flip to it all of the time for inspiration.
Fahrenheit 451 takes place in a futuristic world. I wouldn’t really call it dystopian, even though it is. There’s a sort of pretense set for dystopian novels and this story definitely stands out from that. In this futuristic world, books are banned. Not like today’s banned books. I’m talking all books. And firemen aren’t there to put out the fires. They start fires, burning all of the houses, all of the books, if there are any inside of them. Books lead to unhappiness, or at least that is the theory. Guy Montag is a firemen, and needless to say, he starts to find later on that the attitude against books isn’t right.
I think it’s great that the book is called Fahrenheit 451, the temperature at which paper burns.
Okay, I’m only going to give you one writing tip from this book. Only one because it is huge, and amazing, and it’s what makes me keep coming back to this book.
The storyline is there. The characters are there. The elements of a story. But it’s hard to see it because of all of the writing. And I mean that in a good way. A great way. Things happen in this book, but they don’t just happen. Bradbury has a rhythm in his words, so many metaphors and ideas that wouldn’t usually make sense. It might look at first like he is rambling, but he paints a picture.
I don’t really know how to explain it. When I write, I’m always afraid that I’m going to make a scene go too long. Or I’m going to ramble onto something that is unimportant to the actual story. Because that is what I’m told is wrong. There are certain rules to writing that frame a story. Sticking to important plot points, not filling up with unnecessary fluff, not going off topic.
Bradbury doesn’t follow the rules. He keeps the words flowing, painting pictures of ideas and themes that aren’t usually expressed because all of us writers are cutting ourselves short. Metaphors that expand on the story itself, even if they aren’t immediately relevant. The story reminds me more as a really long internal stream of thoughts. Not much happens, but so much happens to the reader. It’s not like he’s telling the story as much as reaching out and pulling you into it. Making you live it. Some of the scenes in that book are so real that I can imagine them like they actually happened.
This might not make sense unless you read the book. The writing style is almost… magical or something. Like music that you here in the soundtracks behind the scene in a movie. Yeah, it is that good.
And the first words capture it. “It was a pleasure to burn.” Bradbury takes you on a journey from those words until the very end.
So my challenge for you is to look at your story and think about the adventure it is taking you on, as the writer. We all know that, as writers, our experience of what we are writing is so much more intense and real than if someone else read the first draft. Honestly, writing the first draft is the most amazing feeling ever… falling into a story that is only in your head. We see it as real even if we don’t get all the details down the first time around. Go back and elaborate on what you wrote. You can cut out what isn’t supposed to be there in a later draft, but first get the full experience there. Get everything onto paper.
They say the first draft is about getting everything onto paper, but you can’t get it all down in one go. It takes so many drafts to fully develop the story, and then you can start thinking about limiting yourself. Cutting things out. But unless you get everything down first, the reader isn’t going to be as mesmerized by what you wrote as you are.
So go write! But maybe read this book first. It’s really amazing and it reminds us about why we read. Why we write. This book is super inspiring. Here are the Goodreads links:
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!