Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Too Much To Say
This post marks my return to the normal routine. My first blog back, my first day back at the regular routine today. Hopefully not the exact same routine as before, but that's another matter.
In the six days we've been home, we've told perhaps four people total anything about the trip, and most of that has been brief. Of the most detailed I've gotten, I've shown pictures, and elaborated on a few of the details worthy of note in certain photos. I'm sure we'll have a lot more recapping to come, as we get back in touch with family this week, see friends. The SRW meet this Saturday, so I will try and get them all in one group before getting into it.
There's simply too much to say.
What does any of this have to do with writing?
In some ways, it's a bit like describing a novel. When a person asks "How was your trip?" it's akin to saying "What is your book about?" Answering "It was excellent" or "It's about a thief" is technically an answer, but conveys next to no information. On the other hand, rambling for ages (sorry Lesley) about disconnected bits and pieces, or everything all at once, does no better job of capturing the subject and will likely put the listener into a coma.
While we traveled, we found the best way to explain our trip was to say, "It's our 7th anniversary." Not much of an answer, but it offered some context, an immediate explanation for the length and breadth of our trip (which soothed Customs in London considerably) and offered room to fill in blanks and perhaps ask more questions.
So too for summarizing a work. Context and questions are a heck of a lot more useful.
What the heck, I thought to myself. You're a writer, you should be able to do better than this!
Ah, but of course. I never go into a scene and write, "It was exciting and action packed! And there was lots of blood! And they were really afraid, and then they ran!" It's the details that make it, and help someone experience the same thing as the character/traveler.
Take that first picture I posted. It gives you absolutely no sense of the London Eye, nor of the Thames beyond and what might be nearby. What it gives is atmosphere. A sense of time and place, a certain quality of light, a moment, as one might experience in that same place. Those are the things that matter. I took hundreds of reference photos on this trip -- architecture, scenery, rooftops, patterns -- but none of them will evoke much for others save for a bit of context. They've no detail, no atmosphere, no experience.
Since we're taking a break from world-building today, share with me a travel story. What's a moment from a trip, or other event, that sticks out in your mind and captures the mood for you?