Austen Writes Like I Think…

Austen Writes Like I Think…

I have a manuscript due next month. Right now I’m going through the first draft tightening scenes, tightening emotions, tightening words. Passive becomes active. Run! Slay! Dart! If Winnie-the-Pooh was there, I’d have him “ponder” rather than “think, think, think.”

And, if I’m able, I’ll pull out all the adverbs – or at least use them so powerfully they make a statement. (See what I did there? 😉  )

Yet I don’t think like I write – at least not all the time. I think in gradations and repetition, like Winne-the-Pooh. I think in an unspoken, often even subconscious, standard. Comparisons are in our nature. She is taller than I am. She is younger than my daughter. She is… you fill in the blank. We think by ordering a world we know, recognize or imagine.

Austen writes just this way. She describes Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility as “still handsomer, … so lovely, … though not so correct” as her elder sister, Elinor. She compares

all her sisters against/with each other. She also employs a prodigious number of very-s, most-s, and much-es throughout all her novels. She continually compares, I think, because we readers understand it. We instinctively understand her.

But as I said, that’s not how we necessarily write anymore – but to bridge the two? That might be powerful indeed.

Have a great day!






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March 23, 2018 12:28 PM

Great post, Katherine!

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
March 21, 2018 10:29 AM

I never thought about it that way! I will have to really look closely when I read my Jane Austen books, I think I’m missing things!lol

March 21, 2018 9:58 AM

It an ongoing balancing act, isn’t it? How to have good writing, yet readable, relatable writing. What actually defines ‘good’ writing? Then you get into period-appropriateness. Historical accuracy. I have to admit, I prefer to only skim all these categories. Dip my toes in when it seems important. Continually grow and learn, yes, but not obsess. More of a ‘write from the heart’ approach. ‘Good writing,’ whatever that exactly is, is the goal, but also enjoyable writing and ease of reading. Often, I’m most concerned with conveying emotions and actions than other details. If I describe a room or gown, it’s for ambiance or as context for upcoming actions. Luckily, Renata has different focuses. And I do mean luckily. I can’t imagine writing a Pride and Prejudice Variation alone. I wouldn’t know where to begin (Renata’s in charge of that). We all want to be better, but sometimes I wonder if we aren’t too hard on ourselves.

Good Luck with your editing. I’m sure it will go well 🙂

March 21, 2018 9:07 AM

That is true, we often do compare and I hadn’t pondered on how often Austen writes like that. Thanks for the post.

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