Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wandering Back

I've wandered away lately from the whole reason I started this blog. Today, I shall wander back. I called it Characteristically Speaking for a number of reasons. One reason is that I write character based stories. I think of the character first, then I tell about who they are and what made them that way (also known as a plot), and in the process love them and hug them and squeeze them and call them George (an obscure Bugs Bunny reference, sorry). This makes me happy.

I also like to learn about what makes a character come alive on the page. The device and voice and technique that creates this alchemy. I tend to talk a lot, so those who know me personally would say that this blog is characteristic of me speaking, and speaking, and speaking.

So far in this post, I've used a particular device three times. Can anyone tell me what it is? Not humor, that isn't exactly a technical device. Okay, give up? It's called polysyndeton. It means using a succession of conjunctions when they could be deleted and commas used, but the effect is different, not the meaning. So all those "ands" were on purpose. Now usually, I would use it once in a story, let's not go overboard. Some people despise it, and some, like me, like the effect in certain stories. I think it mimics real speech, as bad as that can be when it is supposed to be dialog. I use it as one of the ways to show a character thinking and speaking at the same time, or even speaking before thinking.

The thing that started this whole agenda for me today was a recent critique from one of the sites I participate in online. The critique writer said I needed to learn how to use commas correctly and not rely on conjunctions; this in reference to a passage much like the above. Well, yes and no. I am doing it on purpose. I want the effect. It reads differently and has the effect of slowing, of emphasizing, what is being put together in succession with the conjunction instead of the comma.

While I treasure the feedback I get from others that helps my writing, I am discovering that I am starting to nod politely, and then do it my way anyhow. Again, those who know me personally will not be surprised by this behavior. I always do it (ignore advice) when I know a certain amount about the subject matter. It tells me that I have a higher level of confidence in my writing than before. Before: when I would change anything because I assumed I was wrong and they were right. Now, I am not so quick to change. And that, dear readers, is so characteristic of me.

Jo Taylor


  1. Hi Jo! Oh my gosh, I LOVE your blog! I've only read a few of your posts, but you've managed to wow me with your writing and your voice. I'm already looking forward to reading your NaNo novel someday when it appears on the "New Fiction" table at Borders...

    Thanks for checking out my blog and becoming a follower :-)
    Best of luck with NaNo-- can't believe it starts in just 9 days!


  2. Hi Leslie!

    So nice of you to visit and thank you for your wonderful encouragement. I feel NaNo sneaking up behind me . . .

    Good luck to you also, I'll be checking on you!