Quiet writers – mice that roar
Lately I find myself writing posts about other people’s blog posts and today I’m doing it again.
Meg McKinlay has written a wonderful post about ‘quiet writing’, writing where action is not the driving force. She talks about how she has to focus on ‘things happening’ and that ‘forward narrative movement is the hardest thing of all’.
As a reader, I love quiet writing. I find it in books like Gabrielle Wang’s Wishbird, Glenda Millard’s Tishkin Silk series, Isabel Carmody’s Little Fur books, Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon, Jen Storer’s Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children and every book Cassandra Golds has written. I know I’ll find it in Meg’s latest work. The excerpt I read put A Single Stone at the top of the list for my imminent birthday book parcel.
If I look over the ocean I find the queen of quiet writing in Kate DiCamiilo. Despereaux remains my hero, a sword-waving, rat-braving, princess-saving hero. Even Disney couldn’t destroy that.
It’s true that in every story not only do things need to happen, but something big has to happen. Here’s the crux – it doesn’t have to make a noise. Quiet writers, like Despereaux, are mice that roar.
Quiet writing has a soundtrack of it’s own – it’s more sensory, illusionary and ambient – more visual – but not at the expense of action. Things still happen but they sound different.
It’s not about being an adult reader. Kids love quiet writing too, although I’m sure they wouldn’t describe it as wordily as I do. I watched the expressions on the faces of a classroom full of kids as their teacher read Sally Murphy’s Pearl Verses the World.
As a writer, I’m inclined to write a little quietly. A reviewer for White Crane said “If your kids want violent action, let them read Sandy Fussell’s Samurai Kids series. They’ll love it and they won’t realise that in all the battle and fight scenes there’s no violence at all.”
That’s because I write those scenes quietly. With a lot of Zen. A true samurai doesn’t need a sword, Sensei said. (White Crane)