Read to write

Posted on February 19, 2011


The diamond as big as the Ritz, by F.Scott Fitzgerald

This week is about F. Scott Fitzgerald and his short stories collected in Penguin’s Popular Classics series, The diamond as big as the Ritz.  I’ve seen the Ritz: it’s big and bling. Passing along the hotel’s promenade not far off from Piccadilly, you get a sense of class and history (not to mention the glow of riches), which is much like Fitzgerald’s narrative.

His short story Bernice bobs her hair has a snip of womanly advice that also works great when applied to writing:

“When a girl feels that she’s perfectly groomed and dressed she can forget that part of her. The more of yourself you can afford to forget the more charm you have.”

Why is it easy to read Fitzgerald? Because his writing is dressed to the nines. Smooth running dialogue, well timed pace and an excellent sensibility toward his characters; he can forget about the structure and charm us with his story.

I think it’s very useful to learn about narrative devices, grammar, intertextuality, attend workshops and to edit-edit-edit, but perhaps once mastered (or learned to an adequate level) a writer needs to forget all that effort.

Lessoned learned from this week’s reading: Study the structure of writing,  then forget all those devices and let your creativity shine. The more you can afford (key word, possibly?) to forget, the more charm your writing will have.

(PS- I find this to be true when blogging at I just spill my thoughts out, and people seem to connect really easily. Maybe that’s why I like a ‘chatty’ style of writing.)

*But if the book wouldn’t suit a bubble bath and a glass of fizzy apple juice, than I’m not sure I’ll be reading it. Text-book boring or cringe-worthy bad doesn’t suit me one bit. A good book needs to be accessible, interesting and above all, absorbing.
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