Saturday, 26 August 2017

Every year? Well, it's description discussion time again...

Follow me, if you will, to an invitation to supper at someone’s home.  I sit down at the table and I begin to drool in delight as the host brings out a big circular pizza platter.!  I have a momentary concern about what toppings the host might have chosen, but, hey - pizza is pizza.  As long as it’s not some kale and kumquat on gluten-free...never mind.  

To my surprise, the host places a triangular piece of flat pizza bread on my plate.  By the sheen catching the light, a splash of oil was added in the baking.  My nose detects a whiff of, in all likelihood, a sprinkle of some pre-mixed “Italian Seasoning” dashed over the surface.

But nothing else.  Not one topping one would associate with “pizza”.

Seeming to anticipate my puzzlement, the host jumps in with an earnest and exuberant explanation.  “I think food is a team effort between chef and eater.  I don’t want my efforts to get in the way of your experience.  Take a bite of the crust and imagine all the marvellous pizzas you’ve eaten.  Remember the wonderful homemade sausage you once bought at a farmer’s market.  Let your memory glide over that smooth, top-shelf mozzarella cheese you loved on a trip to Little Italy.  Dream on that rich, thick sauce they make at your favourite pasta place.”  He sits back, beaming with anticipation, urging me with eyes and body language to...  “Eat!  Eat!”

I pick up the slice of bread.  It’s kinda limp, so I have to bring in my second hand.  I have a bite.  I follow the host’s advice and recall all the glories of pizzas-past.  My imagination is more than sufficient to the task.  

All these memories do, however, is starkly highlight that all I am currently chewing is a mouthful of vaguely seasoned baked bread.  All this talk of imagination and memories is doing is making me ravenous and grumpy.  All I’m thinking about is how soon I can politely leave and where I can score a decent real pizza on the way home.

AND that is lengthy analogy of how too many writers out there currently craft their “stories”.  They refuse to waste words on describing a spaceship because readers have seen Star Wars or Star Trek and will just fill in the blank canvas.  They try really hard to justify a total lack of character description because it will “spoil the reader’s immersion.”

What a pile of horseshit.

This nothing but lazy, hack excuse-making.  They would be better served transferring the creativity used in making these stiff rationalizations into their actual wordsmithing.

If any of this held any water at all, then why do people go to movies?  If these halfwit “rules of writing” had validity, we’d all be keenly anticipating this summer’s radio play blockbusters.  No panoramic vistas of glorious scenery harshing our buzz.  No bulging beefcake heroic actor or svelte sexy villain spoiling our immersion.  Nothing but our own imagination doing all the work!

A great writer is a tour guide.  They know how much detail, how many facts, what serving of setting to provide to you for your visit and then they know when to shut up and let you drink in the moment.  A good book is team effort between author’s words and reader’s imagination.

These slack-jawed scribblers think “team” means, well, making a thin flat of bread and calling it a pizza.

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