Tuesday Books for Writers! Olive Kitteridge

I officially finished Olive Kitteridge and was officially floored. Elizabeth Strout wrote a book made for Melissa. A series of straight-forward, non-sentimental tales about folks these days. A book completely rooted in realism (which I love). A book that takes all the ordinary conversations, moments, and situations of our lives, studies them with a wide-angle lens, makes the micro…macro. A book made for Melissa. I loved every excrutiating detail, every quiet conversation, every unspoken word… Loved. Loved. Loved.

If anyone is crafting a scene between two people and is struggling to say everything you want to say in a short period of time without it becoming too forced, too unnatural, go to this book. It can be your bible. The writing is so tight. There’s not a word that doesn’t belong. Every gesture a character makes, every word a character says is so subtle, so perfect, so clean. I know, this sounds simple. It almost sounds dumb. Yes, Strout makes it look so easy, you feel like a complete moron. But I want to feel like a complete moron when I read. I want to just be like, wow, wow, wow, this blows my mind, my brain is mush, mush, mush.

Okay, I realize this makes no sense. I clearly should take a few cues from Strout. Here’s what I learned from this book. Things I’ve heard, but not always seen.

1. Say what you have to say.
2. Get in the scene and get out.
3. Pick the right word.
4. Know just how the character moves at that very moment.
5. Know exactly why the character moves that way.
6. Once you’ve said it, don’t look back.

Easy peasy. Right? Right.

Mush, mush, mush.

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