Specifying the muffins

As I reached the end of the first draft of my novel, a quote from Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden, popped out of my memory:

It’s not good enough to mention they have tea, you must specify the muffins.

So, that’s what I’ll be doing this month: specifying muffins. In other words I’ll check for sensory detail and add it where it’s lacking. I’ll also look for consistency. It’s always annoying to find the main character has a blue coat at the beginning of a scene and have it miraculously changed to red at the end.  And, I’ll do what I can to enhance characterization. I noticed, while I finished the last pages, that Cora’s language isn’t as tart as it was at the start of the story. Did she mellow as she became more comfortable, or did I get lazy? I’ll have to think about her basic personality and make sure it’s clearly represented.

The French poet and essayist, Paul Valery (1871-1945) had a more graceful way of saying writers should ‘specify muffins.’

The essence of prose is to perish — to be dissolved and replaced by the image it denotes.

That’s a tall order! Wish me luck, better yet, wish me skillful writing.


About Sharon Hart Addy

Writing is the monkey on my back. Sometimes it's great fun and sometimes it -- well, things can't be fun all the time, but it's still engrossing even when I chew my nails and scratch my head while searching for inspiration. Fiction is my particular fondness. Writing it and reading it.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s