On #IrishWritersWed I am delighted to welcome Fionnuala Kearney, author You, Me and Other People and more recently The Day I Lost You.
Fionnuala’s third novel ‘I Am Love’ is published by HarperCollins and will be released in 2018
Fionnuala has written a wonderful post today entitled “A SENSE OF PLACE AND ALL ‘THE FEELS’”
I’ll hand you over to Fionnuala now so please do enjoy…..
A SENSE OF PLACE AND ALL ‘THE FEELS’
by Fionnuala Kearney
As novelists, we’re lucky enough to spend our time inventing imaginary worlds with made-up characters, leading made-up lives, often in made-up places. We invite our readers to enter that fictional realm but, because the medium of text is visual, we have to find ways of keeping them engaged over several hundred pages.
How can we provide a filmic encounter on the page, something that results in the reader putting a book down, saying, ‘Wow, wasn’t that just brilliant?’ For me (apart from first and foremost having a great story to tell) I think it’s important to allow the reader’s imagination to be part of their experience and to do what we can, en-route, to poke and prod that imagination – to make the reader feel.
I don’t write ‘lyrical’ prose, not because I don’t admire it – it’s a thing of beauty – but because it’s not my natural style of writing and nor is it my first choice when I read a book. I’m a reader who, if I feel the narrative slips into pages of overly-descriptive, imagery, I’m likely to skim over those passages to get to the part where something happens. I know, I know – I can hear you yelling at me! Trust me, as a writer, I hold my hands up – this is a cardinal sin. Skim reading passages that an author has laboured over is not something I’m remotely proud to admit to…
But a successfully crafted sense of place in a story can, I feel, really enhance the reading experience. So, how best can a writer evoke a sense of place, putting the reader directly in the scene they’re creating – especially in the absence of long, colourful paragraphs? Personally, I work with the idea that the writer can hint, and provide a few elements rather than have every tiny detail of a scene slowly spelled out for them.
Let’s play a quick ‘spot the difference’ game with a couple of examples:
‘Inside the living room, just to the left of the bulky swags and tails, sat a modern tan-leather chair, a blanket folded on its arm. The coffee table, circa nineteen fifties, and
positioned within reach of the chair still bore the ring-marks from her grandfather’s mug. She remembered how he’d always let his hot drinks go cold.’
This first scene is fine, but maybe a little still. Several items are listed to show the reader where they are. They’re in an old fashioned living room with an oddly placed modern chair, but what are they meant to feel? In this second example, engaging a few of the senses can evoke emotion and participation in the reader, while also adding to the characterization and setting of the piece:
‘Inside the musty living room, just to the left of the bulky swags and tails, sat a modern tan-leather chair, his threadbare blanket folded on its arm. The coffee table, circa nineteen fifties, and positioned within easy reach of the chair still bore the scarred ring-marks from her grandfather’s mug. She remembered seeing it sitting there, the steaming, bitter coffee always left to go cold.’
Suddenly, I’m right there and I care a little more about the narrator and her possibly dead grandfather and the emotion I’m feeling is definitely one of sadness. I want to know both what’s happened, and what’s going to happen next.
Great storytelling is all about taking the reader with you and making them feel along the way. One of my favourite books, “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte, took me on a lyrical, brooding journey across the moors with the equally brooding Heathcliff – a perfect example of the sense of place adding to the characterization in the novel. (Promise – I never skim-read a single sentence of that book!) For this classic, Bronte had the setting of the moors to work with and yet, just as beautifully crafted was an eleven by eleven foot space that Emma Donoghue’s readers of “Room” will never forget. So different, yet both thrilling and something, as I continue as a novelist, I will always aspire to doing as well…
As the unique Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“I’m Fionnuala, pronounced FINOOLA, and am as Irish as the name hints at, though I live just outside London In Ascot. I write character driven novels where I love to poke about under the layers of relationships and see what’s really going on underneath…
My third novel ‘I Am Love’ is published by HarperCollins and will be released in 2018″
Website ~ https://www.fionnualakearney.com/
Twitter ~ @fionnualatweets
The day that Jess’s daughter, Anna, is reported lost in an avalanche is the day that changes everything. Left to explain her mother’s absence to Anna’s five year old daughter, Rose, Jess isn’t yet ready to admit to herself that her daughter may not be coming back.
But Anna’s disappearance dredges up some life changing questions: Jess must uncover her daughter’s secret life and unearth something that could change her world irrevocably.
The day I lost you was the day I discovered your secret life.
The day I lost you was the day you tore our family apart.
Purchase Link ~ The Day I Lost You