The “Old Man and the Sea.” One of my favorite books by my favorite classical author.
This isn’t a book review. Far from it. Who could review Hemingway? I wouldn’t presume to do so. I’ve re-read “The Old Man and the Sea” recently and I just want to make a few comments about the book and about Hemingway.
One reason I like Hemingway as a classical author is because of his writing style. It is concise, succinct, and spare. He writes in short, declarative sentences. There is nothing flowery about his writing, unlike some of his contemporaries. He keeps many of the adverbs and a large number of the adjectives out of his writing. That lets the reader see the real story. The succinct story.
The book is, quite simply, about an old fisherman and his struggle with his last big fish. Most readers will draw the conclusion that the book is about a man’s struggle to prove himself one last time, in his old age. Hemingway didn’t feel the need to clutter up his story with descriptive adverbs and adjectives. He just wrote the story clearly and sparely. It’s classified as a novella, a form of literature which is back in style in publishing today.
His writing style must have worked. Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 for the “Old Man and the Sea.”
All that seems to be on my mind these days, and just about all I’m doing, is working on my novel. I’ve been reading about writing a novel as much as I’ve been writing. I’m not a novice writer, but I am certainly a novice novel writer so I’ve been trying to learn as much about novel writing as I can learn.
In order to give depth to the novel and the characters, you have to use the characters’ senses to paint the pictures in the book that you want your readers to see. One surprisingly sense that I, in writing my novel, have found particularly effective, is the sense of smell.
If your character takes a walk in the woods, for example, and the wildflowers smell sweet and lovely, that sets a scene in the reader’s mind of a beautiful day in the life of the character. But if those same wildflowers smell cloying and too sweet, the scene is interpreted by your readers as something completely different.
In novel writing, smell can be a very powerful sense for the writer to use for the purpose of illustrating a scene.
The example I’ve just given is a very subtle example that a writer can use to set the meaning of a scene in a reader’s mind. Of course, there are examples of smell that are far more obvious. The smell of asphalt on a highway. The smell of different types of food. You get the picture. If you are a professional writer or have aspirations to be, develop a file of all the different types of smells that you find that you can use in your writing and that information will serve you well.
I’ve mentioned in these stream of consciousness posts that I’m writing a novel. I suspect it is a little like giving birth. This project is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but one of the most fulfilling.
I changed careers in the middle of my life. I finished a career as a college professor after 27 years. I still felt young and strong and interested in the world around me. I wasn’t ready to quit work and retire to my rocking chair. I have been writing since I was a child. My first story was published in the Highlights for Children publication. Then, during my teaching career, I published many academic writings. Near the end of that career, I started writing for a financial brokerage and was writing for them, when I wasn’t at school, on 9/11. Writing about 9/11 gave me some serious writing chops. I was hired to write for the New York Times division, About.com. I was their Subject Matter Expert on finance and wrote, edited, and became the webmaster for their Business Finance website. I held that gig for five years. That gave way to writing for corporations, usually online learning materials for their executives. I also wrote many non-fiction articles for online and offline magazines.
So here I am. With my own blog where I started out writing well-researched non-fiction and I still write some of that. I took some writing classes through Udemy and read authors like Stephen King and Rayne Hall. I’ve studied writing extensively. I, then, started writing some of the fiction challenges here on WordPress which have helped me enormously and I decided to try my hand at my first novel. I knew the story I wanted to tell. I just had to figure out how to tell it, which is a daily process.
A good novel that you plan to hand to a publisher is about 80,000 words. That is long and hard and requires that you study all elements of writing fiction. I’m closing in on the first of three parts of this novel which is a psychological thriller. The first part, indeed all three parts, will be 26,000 words or thereabouts. It’s exhausting and very satisfying work. If you are interested in writing a novel, I’d recommend you read Stephen King’s book “On Writing” first.
I’d love to hear any comment you want to make or any advice! I’m a novice and still have a lot to learn!
Is it Winter?, Basketball, Reading, Writing
After being in South Florida for a month, I am confused about the seasons. When I was in Florida, I forgot it was winter. Now, I’m home in Kentucky and the temperatures are very warm for this time of year – in the 60s and even 70s. From what my friends here tell me, Kentucky really hasn’t had much of a winter this year. My psyche is confused about the seasons. I guess it will be from now on since we will be living six months in Florida (winter) and six months in Kentucky (summer) so we will sort of be in perpetual summer. Suits me just fine.
Yes, we are home from Florida and the amount of just “stuff” I have to put away, launder, and arrange is mind blowing. What I would rather be doing is writing. I didn’t get to write nearly as much as I wanted while in “The Sunshine State.” I will rectify that while in Kentucky. Now that we actually have a place to live in Florida, I will now be able to write there as well. No longer will be living like gypsies while in Florida!
I love college basketball! I’m watching a game between my beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and the Georgia Bulldogs. I don’t like professional sports, however. We’ll be able to pick up the basketball games while in Florida as we will use a satellite dish.
Have you read anything good lately? The novel I’m writing is a psychological thriller so I’m trying to read other psychological thrillers to get a sense of their style. I’m currently reading “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena. I think the author could have done a better job in building up suspense. Besides that, it is a very good book and I would recommend it. Do you have any suggestions?
I always like to exchange writing tips. My tip for today is to try to write something, anything every day to keep your hand in. Any tips? Put them in the comments section.
That’s it for now!