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Friday, 18 January 2013

A Random Lesson Learnt.

Okay, so I broke a rule. I started work on 'Severance' while in the middle of writing 'Truce'.

I know, I know... bad DeeDee!!!

The thing was that I had it right there, it was in my head, writing itself and I was scared of losing it! It's a sad peace of writing, a letter written by an older brother who knows that he's going to die, to his only sibling, also a boy, who will be left all alone when he is gone.

It was hard to write for a lot of reasons. It is an emotional subject, yet the purpose of the letter is to comfort and 'be there' for the brother that will be left alone. Then there was the fact that it was a letter written by a man and I am a woman. I didn't want it to be too emotional, Jae Shin has accepted that he is dying and wants to help Di Ye accept it too.

Fortunately I have a brutal  honest 'editor' who read the letter through and, after some thought, drove a neat red line through my most cherished passages the more maudlin phrases. I have to admit that the letter is better for the corrections.

It's also half as long.

With the sentiment stripped away, you really get a sense of Jae Shin's character, his personality springs from the page; strong, clever, a little bitter that his frailty has limited what he sees as his purpose in life, but not uselessly so. He sees a way to make a difference, even after death, by guiding his brother. He seems more vibrant, more alive somehow. You understand why Di Ye thinks so much of him, why he has allowed the letters his brother left behind to have such an impact on his life.

I think for the first time I understood that 'less is more' can apply in writing too. The bald facts, set out starkly and without emotion, gave a much clearer picture of the man Jae Shin was than all the extra information I had  added to the narrative in the form of feelings. It also re enforces my belief that having someone, that you trust completely to be honest, look over your work is a must. Because there is always more to learn, and sometimes the only person who can teach you is a reader.

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