Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Roar For Powerful Words

Steve, from On the Slow Train has awarded me the Shameless Lions Writing Circle's "A Roar for Powerful Words" award. Thank you, Steve. I am sincerely humbled and honored by this.

The award was initiated in November by Seamus Kearney, a writer living in Lyon, France. Here are Seamus’s instructions:

Those people I've given this award to are encouraged to post it on their own blogs; list three things they believe are necessary for good, powerful writing; and then pass the award on to the five blogs they want to honour, who in turn pass it on to five others, etc etc. Let's send a roar through the blogosphere!

Here are the three things that I believe are critical elements of powerful writing:

1. Honesty. The Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa has been quoted as saying “to be an artist means never to avert your eyes”. The writing that resonates most powerfully to me is honest. The writer wrote what he or she saw, felt, smelled, tasted and heard and didn’t avert his eyes, didn’t abstract, didn’t write anything that wasn’t true.

2. Precision. The best writing uses no more and no fewer words than are absolutely necessary. Every word is chosen specifically because it is the only word that will do. I struggle mightily with this.

3. Voice. My favorite writers have a voice and a style I could pick out of a literary lineup.

There are so many blogs that inspire me with powerful words that I am reluctant to name just five, but in the spirit of the rules, here are my nominations:

Beyond Understanding

Carleen Brice

From Here to There and Back

Iyan and egusi soup

Yoga Gumbo

Please follow the link back to The Shameless Lions Writing Circle and claim the lion of your choice.

What are three things that you think are critical to powerful writing?


iyan and egusi soup: said...

lisa, thank you very much. i so agree with your list--especially on the economy of words and honesty.

kristen said...

thank you for this! I'm honored to be in such stellar company.

reality967 said...

Lisa, if anyone deserves this award- has to be you.
So keep on roaring.
For me, style, structure and the idea behind words is what makes prose powerful.

Yogamum said...

Oh my gosh, thank you! I haven't blogged about writing in a while, so this will be inspirational!

Julie said...


Congratulations - and love the distinctive points you've made re writing.

btw- only just checked emails and replied to yours. Not going for Tims challenge, too steep a gradient at the moment, but have set up my own fun one for Christmas....

Carleen Brice said...

Gracias! I love being part of a club with the words "shameless lions" in it. (Are there any other kind? :))

Sustenance Scout said...

Good point, Carleen! I once saw an all-woman band in Nashville called Ethel and the Shameless Hussies (remember the song The Streak? "Ethel, you shameless hussy!"). Anyhoo, I agree lions have no use for shame, and neither should we.

Thanks, Lisa!! K.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great three choices. And congrats on the award.

Melissa Marsh said...

Great award - congratulations!

Let's see...staying TRUE to your voice is one that I think powerful writing needs. And using the five senses is a must.

Josephine Damian said...

Lisa, very well said, and especially love the Kurosawa quote, proof positive that the award is much deserved.

3 things:

1. Never bore. Never confuse.

2. When you stop to describe something, you have stopped.

3. The best books are about a character struggling between two extremely diffucult choices, both with dire consequences and high stakes.

Sorry I haven't returned your email - school was a bitch, but that's no excuse. Thanks, but no need to send me that "Away" book, I can get it from my library..... I'm determined to go lean and mean when it comes to # of books I let in the house since I'm planning on moving in 2009.

steve said...

Lisa--Thank you for passing on the award to Karen at Beyond Understanding. I had hoped you'd give her the award. And I need to look at your other awardees more than the brief visits I've made.

You've made an excellent start with the first chapter of The Foundling Wheel. And thank you for letting your readers know about the Dickens Challenge.

Sustenance Scout said...

Steve, you're way up there on the list of fellow bloggers who are terrific for my ego! And you're way ahead of me on reading Lisa's first chapter already. I'm waiting until this week's madness has simmered down, Lisa! Can't wait!Oh, and I just posted my response to your tag. Thanks again, kiddo. K.

Lisa said...

Olufunke, you are one of the people who epitomizes economy of words and honesty in your writing.

Kristen, your posts never fail to make me stop and really think.

Usman, thank you and excellent criteria.

Kristi, I am looking forward to your post. You are such an incredible fiction writer and one of the most well-read people I've ever met, so I can't wait.

Julie, thank you and with all of the projects that you have going, I don't blame you for not wanting to take on another. I look forward to what you have in store for Christmas.

Carleen, I don't think so, unless you count the cowardly lion -- but he came around too :)

Karen, I checked it out and I loved where you sourced your criteria. Great post, as I knew it would be.

Charles, and congratulations to you too!

Melissa, thanks and I absolutely agree.

Josephine, excellent criteria. I especially need to keep #2 in mind. I have a tendency to bludgeon description to death. I try to edit it down, but it's a challenge I'm working hard to tackle. No worries on the email at all. I figured since I the book was given to me, I'd make the offer.

Steve, Karen was the first person who popped into my head. Thank you for the kind words.

Jennifer said...

What a well-deserved acknowledgment of your writing! Congrats!

I'm always drawn to writing that shows:

1. Passion. A sense that the writer cares about her topic, her characters; they aren't merely utilitarian. Passion drives a writer to continually do the best work she can, to avoid cheap or lazy solutions, to be painstaking and deliberate.

2. Generosity of spirit. Even when a character or a situation disgusts you, you take the time and care to convey it truthfully and three-dimensionally. You look at it with wide-open eyes.

3. Trust. You don't hold the reader's hand or shove her in the direction you want her to go. You trust that she can determine things for herself, because you trust that you've done your job as a writer. You don't smash a reader over the head with things.

These are all areas where I struggle, especially the last one. I don't trust what I write enough, I know that.

Sustenance Scout said...

One good turn deserves another...check out my current post whenever you get a chance! K.

debra said...

Lisa, you have written about important things here. Important for you to write and important for folks to read and to think about. Thank you.

Lisa said...

Jennifer, great list! I agree with you totally.

Karen, you're too nice.

Debra, no, thank YOU.

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf