The Texture of Writing
Updated: Oct 3, 2019
Ray Bradbury was one of the most talented and prolific writers in the world. Primarily known as a master of Fantasy and Science Fiction, his books and stories have actually spanned across many genres. His rich words flow eloquently while transporting readers to Mars, or within Mr. Dark's time-bending, soul stealing Merry-go-round and Fun House. The events, characters, and plot twists resonate long after they've closed the book. Naturally, Mr. Bradbury had many inspiring suggestions, ideas, and musings on the art of writing.
One quote I, and many writers can relate to, involves the editing process. Mr. Bradbury was asked how he transformed his short story "The Fireman" into the masterpiece novel "Fahrenheit 451."
"It's inflated. The texture of it grew. I retyped "The Fireman" and as I went along I added texture, line-by-line, character by character, idea by idea. It was a process I often go through with a poem. I don't revise, I re-type, and as I'm going through, re-typing the lines, things come to me, and my brain suggests, "Not that word, this one. Not that line, another line." It's an interior process growing outward through the words."
In writing, to add texture is to add substance, to answer the five "W"s as creatively as possible. Texture refines characters and enhances plot points. Readers get drawn into the story's tapestry, allowing the patterns and connective threads to engage their senses. There are so many ways a writer will do this.
On the organizational side of things, some authors praise the use of character outlines and story templates, others will swear by sticky notes, bulletin boards, and "file morgues" for ideas, photos, and other snippets of inspiration. I like the concept of a "file morgue" and I also use an app called Scrivener. I still haven't learned its features 100%, but it does a great job using a familiar arsenal of writing tools to keep my scattered chapters and ideas in place.
Some Writers keep their drafts as a symbol of progress. That's fine. Sometimes there may be a sentence or bit of dialogue that was chopped out, one of those "darlings" they couldn't kill, but just had tuse in the final draft.
I prefer Mr. Bradbury's idea of adding texture and retyping dialogue and words; not starting a clean draft. (Unless I absolutely have to.) I personally don't like holding onto more than one. There were times when I wasn't paying attention and started editing the old draft. And then I somehow feel disenchanted looking back, thinking it'll be never good enough no matter how much I change it.
I struggle with my writing faults. (Surprise, Surprise) I go too heavy on the adjectives. My dialogue and descriptions become too wordy because I love to paint vivid mental pictures for the readers. It took me a while, but I realized by doing that, I doubted the reader's ability to interpret the scene. I hesitated to let them use their own imaginations because a part of me stubbornly insisted, "I'm the writer, my vision is enough."
Audiences like to be "shown" but they don't like everything spelled out for them. I used to think I had a mind better suited for a motion picture Director with how I visualized scenes. I know I'm not the only one.
I'm not a published writer… not quite. I have my Voyagers! themed non-fiction book almost fully drafted, ideas for historical cosy mysteries, and a pre-teen Sci-Fi book on the backburners. My confidence wanes daily. I overthink whatever I attempt to write. Nothing gets finished, and on top of that I'm easily distracted. I get into the "When you want something done, do it yourself!" mindset when it comes to most tasks and I have others who depend on me. The screaming introvert in me disagrees vehemently, but unless you're completely alone in this world, family is important, friendships are priceless, and as the Poet John Donne wrote, "No man is an island." Human connection is vital, and it makes our writing much better.
Ideally, I should be a best-selling author. I'm single with no children, and pushing 40. But that's a misconception I left behind years ago and it's rarely the case for most writers. Now, I just want to have fun and try my hand at self-publishing.
Those are my biggest hurdles. It feels good to vent about them. A new year's coming soon, and the start of a new decade in my life. I want it to overflow with words and finished drafts, and a published work, by ignoring the distractions and simply writing and reading as much as I can.
I'll leave you with these encouraging words from Ray Bradbury that I've taken to heart:
Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't "try" to do things. You simply "must" do things."
"We are cups. Constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff come out."