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Authors with skills you'd like to further develop (1 Viewer)

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Here is the reverse to my recent thread (Published Authors you write better than).

What would you love to do better, and who can you best learn it from?

If this thread gets legs, I'll mention a few, but I'm going to start out with Phyllis A. Whitney. Ms. Whitney published from 1941 to 1997, her last novel coming out at age 94. She received prestigious awards, and you could find her work in every library.

I mention her here because if you want to know how to write beautiful, well-balanced prose which contains evocative description without ever straying into the purple, you can't do better than to study Phyllis A. Whitney. In my own writing, I'm conservative to avoid over-writing, but in recently revisiting Whitney, if I pay attention, I may learn how to weave a few more modifiers in without crossing the line. Her prose is virtually flawless, and the description she includes enhances her scenes without dominating them. What's on the page is designed to entertain the reader and create images ... not impress the reader ... a distinction I've drawn in discussion a few times.

I might just read ten of her books in a row. By the way, her story-telling and pacing is top-notch. Although she wrote both YA and adult mysteries, I happen to have started on a mystery about an alienated 14-year-old girl. If that story can be a page-turner for a 64-year-old man, you know the author is an expert.
 
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Lawless

Senior Member
I'm very bad at descriptions of scenery and the general mood in one or another location. I've seen lots of authors who can do it really well, little point naming any names.

I'm also very clumsy at emotional, moving descriptions of horribly tragic events. But maybe it's something I can avoid altogether?
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Descriptions - I always fall back on the opening stanza of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451... it's humbling, I wish I could write like that. Beyond that - story structure, characterizations... all of it I need to improve upon.

Like most if not all here, I read incessantly and try to learn from every book I open - even if the lesson is negative, as in, wow, that didn't work, so I won't do that.
 
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Mr.Mingo

Senior Member
As far as characters that feel alive, I'd like to write like Amy Hempel, Junot Diaz, or Jhumpa Lahiri. Their short stories feel like odd biographies, as they take on often difficult people and write them as if they lived their lives. Nuances and themes to boot.

As far as environments, nobody beats Annie Piroux for me. Her expansive wilderness and bleak, modern American West is something I envy.

With poetry, I wish I could write with the decisive simplicity of Amy Pastan or Niedecker. Short poems that take on large themes in few words. Same with William Carlos Williams poems and his beautiful metaphors.

Too many to name honestly. So much literature to grow from.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Ursula K. Le Guin swept me away within the first sentences of A Wizard of Earthsea. Her prose is tender and pensive in a way that I immediately aspired after, and rather than play up the extraordinary nature of her characters she depicts them as goat herders and farmers' wives, so that you feel like you could do some gardening beside people who've saved the world.

I haven't read her sci-fi books yet, a mistake in dire need of rectification.
I'm not really into fantasy, but I did read several of her Earthsea books - my favorite novel by her remains the Lathe of Heaven. Heck... the movies are even good.
 
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