Reading tends to affect my writing in one of two ways:
1) Wow, this is great! I wonder if I can learn something.
2) Wow, this sucks! I can do better than that.
Right now I’m reading a #1. It’s The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt, an early classic of science fiction. I couldn’t find an exact date, but it was first published as a novella in 1918, and has that old-fashioned writing style that generally sends me screaming into the streets. This one, however, may be able to teach me something. I’m not sure what yet, but I’m fascinated by how he can keep me reading in spite of a first person narrative from a scientist’s point of view. Generally, those for me are a big snore.
I am all about action and dialogue. If Larry and I have more than three lines of description in our novel, I break it up with something. I can’t abide long narratives. So how Merritt keeps me turning the pages, I have no idea. It’s definitely worth some study.
How did I even stumble across something that old? When I got my Kindle, I couldn’t afford a bunch of books, so I looked for everything free that I could find. I like sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, all sorts of books, so of the 80 novels that I have on my Kindle, I think I actually paid for maybe four.
This has taken my reading in different directions than I would have expected. Had I been browsing in the bookstore, I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up. Had I picked it up, I’d have flipped through the pages, saw that it was written in an Edgar Rice Burroughs type style and put it back down.
Maybe my attitude toward description is evolving. Maybe I’m going through a phase. Or maybe I’m stubborn and give every book on my Kindle 100 pages to grip me before I hit delete.
What I do know is that the man was on to something, and I will seek out more of his work, and maybe by osmosis (I mean, who really wants to study!), I can absorb the knack it takes to develop description without zombifying the reader.
Or maybe I’ll just read him for entertainment. The Moon Pool. Free from Amazon. Check it out.