Monday, 29 November 2010

Writing Ways

I am currently reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and loving it.  Deciding that I needed to read more classic material, I picked it up in October, at Minehead Station, when out with the boys on our steam train trip.  It cost me 85p.  Being a 'classic,' I thought I would find the language and style heavy on the eye, but in fact I've found it gripping and easy to read - even her descriptions and long scripts.

Obviously it is of a different style to that you would find in a contemporary romance today, but the emotion and feelings are still within its pages.  I've been close to tears reading this book - it's been pulling at my emotions.

The book is an American print, and has an introduction by David Stryker.  In this introduction it quotes Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Brontë's acquaintance and biographer:

"She would wait patiently searching for the right term, until it presented itself to her... She never wrote  down  a sentence until she clearly understood what she wanted to say, had deliberately chosen the words, and arranged them n their right order."

The original manuscript presented to the publisher had in places a sentence scored out but rarely a word or emotion.  You get the impression that Brontë would sit long and hard, thinking before she wrote her words.

I wonder if this was a writer's way, before the age of computers, and even typewriters.  They had to sit and deliberate which sentence would go next, how to structure that sentence, paragraph, dialogue in their heads, before writing/typing away (I'm considering the old typewriters here too!).  Nowadays it is easy to just sit at our PCs, laptops and just punch away at the keyboard - I know that's what I do!  Editing has now become key to a clever writer.

In fact writing advice I've read says, you can't edit a blank page!

I tend to just write what's in my head, and use the good old delete/backspace button if I don't like it.  Even cut and paste if I decide a paragraph needs moving.  I tend to write a sentence out and then play with it, to make sure it makes sense and says what I want it to say (although sometimes I still fail).

Before this time, writing could have been tedious to someone like me.  I know that others maybe more articulate in how they write.  I know that some have to perfect a chapter before they move on to the next - whereas I as I like to get to the end of my story, (Nano taught me that in 2006) and then think about the editing.  I am a poor planner in parts.  I have to know an ending, so that I know where I am heading with my story, but I do tend to just go with the flow.  Usually an idea will strike and that will be my next step forward when I come to writing, and I will note ideas as they come.  But I tend to do my scene moving around and planning on the screen as they come to me.

Did writers, back in the likes of Brontë's day have to be better planners?  Have we got it easier now with our modern technology?