Monday, April 4, 2016
Hemingway got it in One
I came upon the coolest quote today. Ernest Hemingway, he of the tolling bell, the rising sun, the feast that moves, has (or has not) given writers the Golden Rule of Writing in six words:
FICTION IS ARCHITECTURE,
NOT INTERIOR DECORATING.
There is an importance in being Ernest because
Shakespeare could not have said it better.
Roll that around in your mind for a few moments. There is a lot of truth in what he says. I'm a writer, but I've done both interior decorating, and architectural drawings, so I have some experience, so please bear with me.
Architectural drawings work like a map, placing things in their precise spot to work with other things in their precise spots. A piece of fiction must be planned out, with an outline, as a guide. It must be grounded and logically thought out. It has to be structurally sound. With architecture, if a wall is not built to exact specifications, or two ends of a bridge do not meet exactly in the center, people can die. If fiction has no plan it descends into chaos. Think of a book that is missing pages, or a film that has no continuity. Chaos.
With good fiction, the concepts are often new, so using a plan, an outline, keeps the writer going in the right direction, with the right tools. It allows the novel to be built using traditions, tropes, character, and plot points, to produce a good story.
Interior decoration can be compared to a coloring book-- There is an outline which you may or may not choose to follow. The results are more fun and there is more freedom of expression in the long run. Interior decoration must please the eye, make an artistic statement, and welcome to the visitor. There is a lot of passion that goes into interior decoration, but no one ever died from choosing the wrong shade of purple for the bed pillows.
But things are not so bleak for the interior decoration type of writer: they get to choose the words to tell the story, to embellish the structure, to make it a place a reader can't forget.
Remember: Good structure + great words= great novel.
Thanks, Mr. Hemingway.