Beauty

beautry-flowerThis week, Diane Sherlock has been gracious enough to provide another guest blog. If you’re enjoying what she has to say, make sure you check out her novel Growing Chocolate, available on the Amazon Marketplace.

BEAUTY—by Diane Sherlock

After considering that narcissism has no place in creating fiction, the question is, what does? That brings me to beauty. A friend has spent most of the summer in the hospital – details aren’t important – they need their privacy. However, among the visitors while I was there last week were a couple of lovely young women who sang the Beatles’ song, In My Life in harmony. We heard later that nearly everything on the floor stopped for those few minutes as people listened. Nurses, orderlies, other patients, visitors were taken out of their daily problems with those moments of beauty. I think we’ve largely lost sight of that in our art, music and literature. John Keats famously ended his Ode to a Grecian Urn with, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

But what happens when truth becomes relative?  Apparently Beauty as a consideration disappears, but we still yearn for it, search for it and appreciate it when it does appear. And by Beauty I don’t mean merely pretty. Real beauty is evocative. It allows you to see anew. It lingers. It is refreshing.

There are still writers working who use moments of beauty or lovely language in their writing. Denis Johnson comes to mind. For most writers (well, good writers) language itself is important and part of the craft is creating beautiful sentences, reiterating imagery and themes in various ways. Jesus’ Son is one of the best examples and it’s achieved by looking very closely and then not settling for the first cliche that comes to mind. Instead, “The jolt of fear burned all the red out of my blood.” or “Midwestern clouds like great grey brains…” (those are mammatus clouds in the thumbnail above) Stop and consider beauty, even (especially) that which is unconventional, and you might create images that stick with your reader.

1 Comment on Beauty

  1. Beauty is difficult to capture. You want something that will stay in your reader’s head, but not draw attention to you as the writer. Also, beware of overdoing it. Overdone emphasis on beauty can lead to the fourth wall shattering and showing you as the writer (gasp!) and it may well create what some people call “purple prose”. That’s when the language is so ornate and flowery that it disrupts the flow of the story and draws attention to itself. It’s overly evocative. For a good example of the hideous monster that is purple prose, open to any random page in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight”. I know I’m going to get a lot of hate for this, but that book is loaded with purple prose, among other hate crimes against decent literature. (Yes, I just called that miserable pile of maggots a hate crime against literature.) Notice how each and every passage seems to go on and on AND ON about what a dreamboat the male protagonist is. That is what happens when you go overboard in the beauty department. Ironically, the result is not pretty.

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