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.

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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.
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