RARA-AVIS: Re: Harper about to come on - TCM

From: David Corbett (davidcorbettauthor@gmail.com)
Date: 23 Aug 2010

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    I have a Describer's Dictionary which provides hundreds of great examples of description, many from Somerset Maugham -- who is decidedly out of favor these days. Descriptions in general and in particular of the protagonist have become something of a third rail, precisely (I believe) for the reason you cite, Dick. Engaging the reader involves the fine art of knowing what to leave out; that requires the reader to step into the story, consciously or unconsciously. Elmore Leonard stumbled onto this because he didn't think he was good at description so he skipped it, letting his dialogue do the job; it worked brilliantly. I think Lee Child quite consciously has minimized descriptions of Reacher for this same purpose: so he becomes at least partly the reader's creation. I'm reading Sean Doolittle's THE CLEANUP right now and I couldn't tell you what Worth looks like in detail, but even with Sean's meticulously bone-dry prose he's perfectly clear in my mind's eye because of what he d
     oes, says, and thinks. (I'm loving this book, btw.)

    David Corbett www.davidcorbett.com

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