Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

About a Book, Writing, and a Dragon

21 Comments

Hi! I’m back! Hope you all had a fun holiday weekend, or at least got some reading and writing done.

Oh, you are wondering about the dragon, aren’t you? I finally saw the third How to Train Your Dragon movie. If you haven’t seen any of the movies, you should. The third one was as good as the others–better, because what’s better than one Night Fury? A Night Fury and a Light Fury! Anyway, my daughter–who is supposed to be saving her money for college but somehow missed the memo–brought me my very own Night Fury.

It even lights up and roars. You’ll have to watch the third movie to really get that.

Another fun thing that happened this week is the latest issue of InD’tale Magazine came out. It’s a magazine about books for writers and readers, focusing on books published by small presses. If you want to go directly to the fun part, click here. If you want to check out the whole magazine, you can find it here. My review is on page 109.

I suppose I should post something about writing, since this is some sort of a writing blog, right? I’m progressing on Book 2, slowly but surely. This week (since I’m, like, two weeks behind on reading blog posts) I read a post on Janice Hardy’s blog (BTW, if you don’t follow Janice Hardy, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of writing tips) about purple prose. I also started listening to the audiobook version of Where the Crawdads Sing. If you have read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The descriptions in the book are rich. She describes the marsh, the swamp, the sand, the weather. Reading it as a writer, I wonder how someone comes up with prose like that. But also as a writer, after reading a post on purple prose, I have to wonder where to draw the line. So, here’s a screenshot of the prologue of the novel courtesy of Amazon’s look inside feature.

Prologue of Where the Crawdads Sing

So, is this purple prose or not? The descriptions build the atmosphere of the story, and they are wonderfully fluid. I think genre has a part in determining where the line is drawn. Literary books have more “flowery” description, I think, and the readers accept it. A murder mystery, on the other hand (yes, I know the book is a murder mystery, but it’s more literary than a police procedural or crime novel. I don’t think Catherine Coulter would get away with descriptions like this in her FBI books (in fact, one reason I don’t read her books is the stark lack of “atmosphere”, in my opinion. Your mileage may vary)).

So, how does a writer determine whether s/he is crossing that line between good description and overdone description? That is one of the values of critique partner(s) and/or a writing group. They should be able to tell you if you’re overdoing it, or if you aren’t doing enough. The key is to give the reader enough so they can feel like they are in the setting. If they are in a funeral home, the smell of flowers would be something a character would notice. If it’s winter, the reader should be able to feel the biting wind. And if the setting is Georgia in August, the character would probably be swimming in sweat, barely able to breathe air so humid it could put out a fire all by itself.

So, there’s my contribution to writing wisdom for the week ๐Ÿ˜€

So, have a great week. Do some writing. Do some reading. Do some weeding–wait, that’s my to-do list. Enjoy your weekend!

Must be nice to be a cat!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, seven chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

21 thoughts on “About a Book, Writing, and a Dragon

  1. I saw HTTYD this week too! I took the girls to $1 summer movies. SO worth it! The wait, I mean, to still see it in the theater, and for a total of $4! Yes, it was great. I feel bad for Paul for having to wait and see it on our dinky tv at home. Ah, well.
    Thanks for sharing the link on purple prose. I’ve heard of that but still don’t know what it is. I’ll shall investigate!
    I wish I could sleep as well as Zoey! Must be a cozy seat, esp. if it was recently warmed by you sitting in it and only just popped up for a drink.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wait for the movies to come out on DVD, then get them from the library. We don’t get cable, so that’s how we watch some of the cable shows, like Justified and Deadwood. Oh, and my hubs watched the Sopranos on DVD from the library. And The Walking Dead (I only managed to make it through two or three seasons before I lost interest.)

      I think Zoey enjoys stealing my spot, then daring me to shoo her away. Or she seems to be saying, “You got up so I’m here now. Pet me and I might think about letting you have your chair back. Maybe.” ๐Ÿ˜€

      Have a great weekend, Betsy!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Julie, I love the Furies! ๐Ÿ˜€ Your daughter knows you so well! I loved the first of these films but havenโ€™t seen any since as my son grew up! Oh, I love this prose … but you are of course right. Such colourful writing is expected in certain genres, not so much in others but it is great if one can give a taste of this in ones own writing. Happy Writing! ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I love the Furies, but Toothless has more personality than the Light Fury, I think. Then again, he’s one of the stars, so I suppose it makes sense. And you should see the second and third movies, even if your son is grown (he might even enjoy them now ๐Ÿ˜€ ) I love the prose because of the atmosphere it creates, and because of the sheer creativeness of it, but I think it walks that fine line between “enough” and “too much”.

      Have a wonderful writing weekend, Annika!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is one fantastic dragon, Julie! Your daughter was awfully kind to get that for you. As for writing, I’m glad you’re making progress. You bring up a really interesting question about whether a description is too much, or whether it helps build atmosphere. I tend to like ‘lean’ prose better than lots of description, but that’s me…

    Liked by 1 person

    • She was, but I still wish she would SAVE her money for college. Sigh. I have come across some wonderful description in books, but I have also come across some that makes me say, “C’mon, get on with it.” It’s the balance that’s tough to find, I think.

      Have a great weekend, Margot!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The kitty picture was also a great contribution to my writing day. Oh to sleep like a cat.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I so glad you got to see the 3rd movie! I appreciate your night fury. I with you I like some of the flowery descriptions over more stark writing. Hope you have an amazing week Julie!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a sweet gift from your daughter, Julie. Oh gosh, I wish I could sleep as well as your cat. What’s his secret? ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought so, too, especially since I’ve been thinking about getting one for myself ๐Ÿ˜‰ And man, talk about cat envy! To just curl up or stretch out someplace and sleep, and not have to worry about mowing the lawn, or weeding, or a job…

      Enjoy your week, Jill!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been away for a lake vacation and a long weekend, so I’m trying to catch up with posts I missed. First, congrats on the great review in InD’tale magazine. That’s awesome! And as someone who is addicted to HTTYD, I love your Night Fury statue. I bought the DVD for the third movie when it was released and devoured it immediately. It was so good, but also a little sad (I’m sure you know what I mean).

    As for Crawdads, I love the prose. I tend to think of purple prose more in romance novels (the old bodice rippers) that are overdone. I love flowery/lyrical descriptions, but they only work in certain genres and for certain things like scene setting.

    Zoey looks nice and comfy, LOL.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oooh, welcome back (or is it, sorry you couldn’t stay longer? ๐Ÿ˜€ ) I have the first two DVDs, but haven’t bought the third one yet. Got the DVD from the library, but only watched it once ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I did watch the first two not too long ago, though, anticipating the third one. Don’t think I’ll get tired of them for a while!

      I like the richness of the Crawdads prose, and I marvel at how she was able to come up with it, but I tend to read more books that have less description in general (UF and mystery). I think you’re right, the old “bodice rippers” had a lot of it. And literary fiction tends to have quite a bit as well.

      Ahh, to curl up and sleep like a cat! I get up from my chair to get a glass of water, and she immediately jumps into my chair. When I get back, she looks at me and makes herself comfy, daring me to chase her away. I always do, but I wonder if she thinks she’ll get the upper hand at some point. Needless to say, that point hasn’t come yet ๐Ÿ˜€

      Have a great week, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve got all the DVDs for HTTYD, plus a few from the TV series. Netflix runs a Dragons series too (actually there might be a few). I hate to see the movies end ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

        Hugs to chair-stealing Zoey and wishing you a great week too, Julie!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. IMHO prose and style are at the mercy of the genre. I’ve had regency readership wish that I added more description. The voice changes dramatically with contemporary and fantasy, dumping the adjectives and adverbs to keep the pace rolling. In the end, I rely on beta readers and a fabulous critique partner to keep me on track. Thanks for an interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Genre has a big role in prose and style, I think. And beta readers and critique partners are vital in keeping us writers in line. Or at least helping us resist coloring outside the lines ๐Ÿ˜€

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  9. I liked that description, Julie. I totally agree with you though that the genre often dictates how much is acceptable. Congrats on progress even if it feels slow. And… cute dragon! Thanks for the movie recommendation. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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