Passionate Writing and The Prague Cemetery

Posted: September 5, 2013 in reading, writing
Tags: , , , , ,

I was thinking again about The Prague Cemetery, and I realised that there was a lesson in how I responded to it.

Umberto Eco is clearly passionate about the subject matter of this book. Insane amounts of research must have gone into getting the details right. But that passion, that intensity, isn’t there on the page.

As a writer, it’s not enough to care deeply about what you’re writing. That won’t automatically appear in what you write, or transfer from there to the minds of your readers. You have to think about how you get that passion across. That’s a skill, not a feeling.

Guess I’d better go practice that then.

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Comments
  1. everwalker says:

    I think it’s a surprisingly common problem, and not an easy one to either explain or to spot in your own work. It took me reading a book by Phillippa Gregory that had the same issue to realise what I was doing wrong in the same way.

    • Matt Maddock says:

      It’s one off those areas that I’m not sure about…in that I suspect it might be far easier to get enthusiasm across than some people imagine. To blow my own trumpet for a moment, I am, on occasion, accused of writing a good short article on gaming, with one note usually being that my enthusiasm and love for the medium comes across well.

      And I have no idea how I do that. I just write the things that appear in my head. If my enthusiasm conjures an extended metaphor to do with penguins and a vat of strawberry yoghurt, then that’s what I write. I don’t trouble myself with trying to fit into a defined, or traditional structure. I suspect that enthusiasm must be communicated by a certain breathlessness of presentation which is anathema to stately prose.

      • That breathlessness is definitely one way to get passion across, though I’m not sure it works in every situation. I love Hunter S Thompson’s writing, which often burns with passion, but over a long stretch it can sometimes be hard to keep track of what he’s on about, to connect the dots or feel a sense of coherence.

        That said, I’d rather read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas than almost anything that could be labelled ‘stately prose’.

  2. […] Passionate Writing and The Prague Cemetery (andrewknighton.wordpress.com) […]

  3. […] some of the books I’ve read recently, ones that relied on particular intellectual conceits. Umberto Eco’s Prague Cemetery is a prime example of this, being as it was a stitching together of fragmented history. But Samuel […]

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