“One of the first things we have to say to a beginner who has brought us his [manuscript] is, ‘Avoid all epithets which are merely emotional. It is no use telling us that something was “mysterious” or “loathsome” or “awe-inspiring” or “voluptuous”. Do you think your readers will believe you just because you say so? You must go quite a different way to work.

“‘By direct description, by metaphor and simile, by secretly evoking powerful associations, by offering the right stimuli to our nerves (in the right degree and the right order), and by the very beat and vowel-melody and length and brevity of your sentences, you must bring it about that we, we readers, not you, exclaim “how mysterious!” or “loathsome” or whatever it is.

“‘Let me taste for myself, and you’ll have no need to tell me how I should react to the flavour.'”

-C.S. Lewis, Studies in Words

12 thoughts on “

  1. masercot October 7, 2019 / 11:02 am

    When I’m writing seriously, I tend to let the characters feel the intangibles of a scene…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. D. Wallace Peach October 9, 2019 / 8:10 am

    I love that, Chelsea. What great advice. And yet so nebulous. I suppose it first entails going deeply into the character’s experience and writing from the gut. Then applying the lathe of craft.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chelsea Owens October 9, 2019 / 8:17 am

      I liked his way of framing the old “show don’t tell” because I was finally able to see the way to do so. I love the last bit, about not telling a reader what flavor he’s tasting.

      Liked by 1 person

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