The stumbling block

Writing having to be “fluent” is a common misconception. We don’t want our words to flow down our reader, we want them to stick with him. Writers make cuts, writers use rhetorical figures like the oxymoron to have the reader sit up and notice. Good writing requires the occasional stumbling block.

“But what about the flow?”, you might ask.

I’m not about to reject the flow as a relevant concept. It’s abstract and hard to pin down, but it needs to be there – for the most parts. Breaking the flow from time to time is not a bad thing.

Good writing needs rhythm, flow and a tone. It requires clarity and consistency. If you catch someone pondering about writing being “fluent” or not, there’s a good chance he is just drifting, desperately looking for a block to stumble upon.

Pungent honey

“Show, don’t tell.”

Even in Germany the writing teachers say it like this. A fundamental piece of advice, and you couldn’t put it better in Deutsch.

The author still likes to tell, especially about big, dark, loud things. He labels them as “gigantic monsters” and such. But there is hope. After weeks of being confronted with me rewriting his stuff he is developing a feel for sensuality and enjoys to explore it.

“What does this look like?”, “How does that sound?”, “What kind of drink is it?” Questions like these I have to ask less and less, while he catches more and more parts of my writing that lack effort – like the butterfly’s eye on the boy’s defensive sheet that I had failed to describe spot on. He made me write it again.

When he asked about the “pungent honey” I felt embarrassed that I had to look up the term “oxymoron”. But I was happy to see he notices parts like these now and talks about style instead of typos in early drafts. Finally it feels like working together which helps me to commit turning his monster into a beauty.