Know about what you write

Pick of the Day:  Annie Proulx - Close Range - Wyoming Tales (take your pick from the collection).

I was awake into the early hours last night (oh, the dedication) reading Annie Proulx’s collection of Wyoming Tales.  It was no hardship.

I selected it many months ago for our book group at the cafe, and was surprised to find that opinions were divided.

I think she is a wonderful writer with the ability to encapsulate lives and characters in the tightest written of paragraphs, and I really admire her use of metaphors and ability to capture  language and idiom.

I can still remember of the shock I felt when reading Brokeback Mountain, the final tale in this collection, for the first time. And I am constantly in awe of her descriptive powers.

The Half-Skinned Steer, which opens the book, adds layers of mysticism to her raw realism - and is inspired (I realised in this reading) from an Icelandic folk tale.

Annie Proulx is recognised fot the level of research she puts in to telling her tales. Getting the details right, and using them wisely, adds to every tale.  Getting the details wrong can ruin a story - kill the illusion of reality around which tales of fiction are drawn.

So if we, as writers, are not writing about what we know (as with Alan Paton in the previous post), then we need to learn to know about what we are writing.  Research.

Another thing that drew me to Close Range yesterday is the fact that it has this great sense of place - one place: Wyoming.

Although we have set no theme for stories being submitted for the Dorset Writers Prize, it will be interesting to see if those submitted in any way capture our own sense of place - Dorset.