(A brief review of Great Expectations (film/miniseries) can be found below).
While working at the library, shelving books, I found myself bewitched. I stared for the longest minute at a very pretty and elegant book-spine. Flutters filled my chest. I wondered why I felt this way… (because, naturally, I analyze every single emotion I feel)…and realized that my subconscious remembered the way it felt to read for pleasure. Of how excited I’d be to take home a book, curl up in the sofa with a cup of coffee, and be swept away into the world of fiction.
This was the feeling I’d forgotten while studying at university, as all I read were scholarly articles and novels from the syllabus which I would never have picked up otherwise. Reading = academics. This kind of attitude towards books affected my writing as well. I approached my writing as if I were writing a research paper: I laboured to find a thesis, then, after much research, would write to prove that point. So actually ENJOYING what I wrote was besides the point – everything was about strengthening my argument. And finishing the darn assignment.
With this approach: My writing and my characters turned stilted. While I once could write for an entire day, now I could only write for 2-3 hours at most before burning out.
However, as I examined why my heart had fluttered at the sight of the book-spine, I was reminded of why I even began writing in the first place. I began writing because I couldn’t find the book I wanted to read (to be more specific: I got my hands on all the Pride & Prejudice Sequels and when I couldn’t find any more I began writing one myself). After work, I therefore marched home, marched into my room, and began rereading my story – not as the writer OF the story, but as a reader. I read with this mindset: I want to WRITE the book that I, as a reader, will love. And this was the point I’d forgotten while re-writing TRC from scratch.
Writing-because-it’s-fun seems like such an obvious approach to writing and yet so many times I (and perhaps other writers) forget along the way due to pressures to write something ‘meaningful’ or ‘original’ or ‘funny’ or ‘angsty’ or ‘romantic’ or ‘historical’ or ‘political’ or ‘psychological’…etc. Or even just to get the friggin’ draft finished so I might proudly type ‘THE END‘.
So, as I read through my story with this mindset (write what I, the reader, will love), I began wondering – what exactly do I love to read of in books? One would think this to be an easy question, and yet, it was actually a question that took time to answer.
The list I came up with was:
- A world of a grey moral landscape. No one is completely ‘evil’ and no one is completely ‘good’
- An antagonist whose noble goal goes awry
- A love story that opens the door to psychological/social/religious strife
- Rich in history
- A flourish of insight into the workings of a character’s mind
- Moors, rain, fog, ballrooms, greatcoats, cravats, voluminous gowns *wistful sigh*
- An evocative/descriptive writing style
- Epic character development
- An escapist quality
That’s the book of my fantasy.
That’s the book I want to try and write.
What kind of books do you enjoy? What are the qualities in a book that leaves a deep impression in you or induces a fit of fan-craziness?
ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT NOTE….
I recently watched the BBC miniseries of Great Expectations (2011). It doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but, it’s an entertaining watch. Oh, wait, it does bring something new: Pip steps into a bawdy house. ‘Nough said. I enjoyed the darker, edgier quality to this series.
Then, within that week, I discovered that BBC had a FILM adaptation of Great Expectations (2012) and now, because it is a costume drama, I must force myself to watch it… though I already know the beginning, middle and end of the story…
Two adaptations of Great Expectations within the span of a year… How curious…