Thursday, June 09, 2011

Writing Tips From Odd Sources

Not an entirely accurate title for today's post but close enough. What I mean is that you never know where you're gonna learn something about writing.

Case in point: I'm currently reading Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie mysteries. Hm? Not up on Chet and Bernie? Well, get this: Chet is a dog and he's the narrator. Doncha love it?? So cute. So clever. And, hey--guess what else??--the books boast damned good mystery plots to boot!
But what I love most of all is that Chet, being a dog and all, doesn't react and observe the same way as a human would--and therein lies the lesson. He's a MASTER (dare I say best-in-show?) at showing rather than telling. For instance, when he's happy, a sudden breeze comes up, and seconds later we realize he's wagging his tail. Or take the way he uses smells to size up a character new to the scene. (Love that!)

I know Spencer Quinn (apparently a pseudonym) isn't the first author to use a non-human for his narrator, but still...Chet's pretty unique and laugh-out-loud entertaining. I mean, ya gotta love it when he sheepishly (sorry, Chet) confesses he's not so good with describing colors. Or that his sense of time is measured by describing the movement of the sun or the moon.

See what I'm getting at here? Instead of writing, "the next day" we get the actual physical observation. Kinda cool. Refreshing.

And ya gotta love a narrator who flunked out of K-9 school on the last day, although so far, Chet's always too busy to go into details....

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