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Friday, December 23, 2016

Listen, look, read and 'practice'

“The storytelling gift is innate: one has it or one doesn't. But style is at least partly a learned thing: one refines it by looking and listening and reading and practice - by work” – Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt dislikes the concept that authors should always have something new on the drawing board, so to speak.  Thus, she only produces a new book about once every 10 years.  But when they do appear, her books are always winners, starting with The Secret History in 1992, then The Little Friend in 2002, and The Goldfinch, in 2013.  

Born on this date in 1963, Tartt has largely written in a style that reflects 19th Century writers, pretty uncommon in the briefer, more to-the-point prose style of most contemporary writers (something I’m guilty of myself, since my background in writing comes from journalism and “the Hemingway approach.”)   Tartt’s version not only has won her legions of followers but also many prestigious awards, including the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend, and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Goldfinch, putting her onto Time magazine’s "100 Most Influential People” list in 2014.
Tartt said that when she’s writing she is concentrating                 
on concrete detail: the color a room is painted, or the way a drop of water rolls off a wet leaf after a rain.  “I love the tradition of Dickens,” she explained,  “where even the most minor walk-on characters are twitching and particular and alive.”

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