Roald Dahl’s advice to short story writers – a response to LA

‘Today’s post is a response to ‘LA’ over at Waking up on the wrong side of 50, a slightly irreverent, thought provoking, funny and always entertaining Lady. I’m the first to admit my tales break creative writing rules though I HAVE learnt a few tricks over the months πŸ˜‰ , anyways LA has intrigued me with her thoughts of creative writing and well her post nudged my mind into remembering this story about the author Roald Dahl………… and his fascinating insight into the use of adjectives!’

kkkkkHmm, I wonder what Roald Dahl’s thoughts on text speak would be? Especially the word LOL πŸ˜€ .

The time I’ve spent searching the internet trying to find the letter below……………. (shaking his head in frustration!)……… lol πŸ™‚ ages that’s how long, but seeing as I’m sharing a few thoughts on creative writing I was determined to seek out Roald Dahl’s advice for ALL teller’s of short stories, this 2015 article I’d read many months ago and was determined to find…………. note as you’d expect typewriter written!

Roald-Dahl

I’ve never forgotten Roald’s letter (above) posted back to a young fan who sent him a short story he himself had written, and I love the line ‘surely it is better to say “she was a tall girl with a big bosom” than “she was a tall girl with a shapely, prominent bosom”, or some such rubbish. The first one says it all.

(Is Dahl ‘showing’ us her boobs leaving the shape and size to OUR imagination, rather than ‘telling’ us exactly what they are?)

For some unknown reason Dahl’s acerbic advice is now imprinted into my imagination, and what is SO wrong with ‘shapely and prominent’? Forget her tits for a second, the fact Dahl has scant regard for descriptive adjectives has ALWAYS fascinated.

So all this talk of creative storytelling prompted the topic of writing novels! Do I have one inside me?

Life is full of many universally known phrases whichever your chosen language, I’m referring to sayings rather than inspirational quotes a genre I’m not keen on only because I’m an idle unmotivated bugger!!! But if quotes work for you that’s fabulous, perhaps I should try?

Returning to recognisable phrases and one particularly noteworthy ‘gem’ of advice and interest to WordPress blogger’s, how do I know? Because I’ve read their thoughts on the matter, so here is the universally acknowledged saying of which I speak!

“Each one of us has a Novel inside them!”

:/ Hmm so ‘Andrew’ do I have a novel waiting to be born into this world?

Note the word Novel because we ALL have stories to tell, my blog has many tales of the afternoons spent consensually making love to women (I have 3 more to come!) I cannot speak for everyone but I find writing life stories flow quite easily, I visualise the setting and just put those mind’s thoughts to ‘paper’.………. whether the tale is any frigging good is a whole different question.

So here I return to Roald’s critical advice posted to a young fan and note ‘Jay’ was far from upset, in fact the young lad became a journalist saying he’s quite literally lived his working life by those words…………….. so I got to thinking should I be SO afraid of attempting to write a book when Dahl is SO dismissive of the over use of descriptive language.

I adore Thomas Hardy for his wonderful descriptions of rural England, but jeeze Hardy can be near tortuous difficult reading, I persevere simply because of the sheer brilliance of Chapter One in ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.

But being serious for a second I ask do each of us have a book inside us? Printable into hard copy, purchasable in a bookshop for actual pounds and pence? Worthy enough to be stocked upon the shelves in a library or deemed such a fun read that you’d share and tell a friend? Hmm yes we all have books within us, Amazon is filled with them poetry humour fun reads but as for a novel I don’t think so simply because I like many people have glaring gaping holes in creative writing, I cannot tell you which but I know for certain I have .

Importantly I have a suspicion serious novel writing has to be fun much the same as blogging because if you don’t enjoy the process then why bother πŸ™‚ ❀

On reflection I don’t have a novel inside, short sexy stories yes but a novel? No I’ve some lessons to learn before attempting that…………….. but you go for it LA, I promise I’ll buy. Novels appear to be a labour of love as all great hobbies should be, they’re difficult to write, structures genres and rules to abide by, but if I didn’t have to share my work with a teacher or classmates then I know I’d enjoy learning how to write creatively.

To wrap up this post I’ll leave you with thoughts of character driven dialogue versus descriptive scene setting, now there’s a writing conundrum if ever I read one.

(After writing this post I stopped by a Roald Dahl fan website and read extracts from his various books, and all I can say is the man was a genius storyteller……… and using a typewriter with NO spellcheck!!………. I’d be f#####d without spellcheck!)

A. Shepherdson 2018

16 thoughts on “Roald Dahl’s advice to short story writers – a response to LA

  1. Thank you for the mention! And the belief that I can actually publish a novel. And of course, the inspiring words of Dahl, because we know I am not an overly descriptive writer….(I strive for clever, and clever is sparse, right? I’m going with I write cleverly…) the second draft is being crafted, and awaits your purchase!!β€οΈπŸ˜€and excellent post and observations!.m

    Liked by 2 people

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