Damn Clever Writing

While I intend to eventually use the stories section of this blog for my own floundering attempts at writing, I don’t have anything yet. But I also want use this section to talk about writing in general, what I find interesting or clever about what I’ve been reading, etc. So, to start, I wanted to bring up one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books.

I saw Fela turn her head to look at Simmon, almost as if she were surprised to see him sitting there.

No, it was almost as if up until that point, he’d just been occupying space aroun her, like a piece of furniture. But this time, when she looked at him, she took all of him in. His sandy hair, the line of his jaw, the span of his shoulders beneath his shirt. This time when she looked, she actual saw him.

Let me say this, It was worth the whole awful, irritating time spent searching the Archives just to watch that moment happen. It was worth blood and the fear of death to see her fall in love with him. Just a little. Just the first fain breath of love, so light she probably didn’t notice it herself. It wasn’t dramatic, like some bolt of lightning with a crack of thunder following. It was more like when flint strikes steel and the spark fades almost too fast for you to see. But still, you know it’s there, down where you can’t see, kindling

“Who read you Eld Vintic poetry?” Wil asked. Fela blinked and turned back to the book.

From The Wise Man’s Fear – by Patrick Rothfuss.

After reading that passage, you might think I chose it for the beautiful description that Rothfuss is well known for, prose like poetry. It is one of my favorite parts of his writing, but that’s not why I love this passage. Is it the excellent description of how love really starts instead of the classic ‘love at first sight’ that so many forms of media advertise now-a-days? Nope. It’s that last line that I think is some damn clever writing.

When Kvothe (the character who is narrating) is describing what Fela is thinking, the internal thoughts going on for her, the reader is similarly transported out of the scene. Attention is pulled away from everything else surrounding them and we are left lost in Fela’s mind with a singular focus Simmon. The language is powerful and poetic amd dpes an excellent job of making us forget where we are with it’s description and how it draw’s is in.

And then the last line – Wil’s comment intrudes into Fela’s thoughts. It pulls her out of the well of her thoughts and returns her to the present. But Rothfuss did something exceedingly clever here, because it does the same thing to the reader. We are so drawn in by the description and the language, that we ourselves forget the scene in which it was taking place. Wil’s comment doesn’t just serve to make Fela blink and turn her attention to the scene, but it serves to snap the reader out of Fela’s perspective back into the scene as well. This is why I love the passage. Rothfuss expertly sculpts the language to draw you in, twirls you around, and snap you out again, all while using another character’s perspective to do it. It is masterful manipulation, and a piece of writing I really admire. I hope to write something as clever as that one day. I wonder if Pat thinks about that passage and chortles to himself about how clever he is.


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Comments (3)

  • Cindy 6 years ago Reply

    Such beautiful personal stories. I look forward to reading about your experiences. I admire your confidence and determination to fullfil your dream as so many of us won’t and have many excuses not to. We are so very proud of you Tanner and wish you all the best on your journey….

  • Kathleen Magnuson 6 years ago Reply

    That moment that makes you say “hmmm” to yourself, in a questioning way. I wonder what that just was?

  • Kathryn 6 years ago Reply

    It’s Thanksgiving eve and I finally have a few minutes to relax and catch up on the blog. I love reading your adventures, musings, and insights. It’s almost as if you took us along in your backpack.

    I just finished reading The Alchemist It was inspiring and moving. It’s left an impression on my psyche. I know it will stay with me for days, hopefully, months. There are so many beautiful passages. Here is one of my favorites…

    “The only things that concerned the sheep were food and water. As long as the boy knew how to find the best pastures in Andalusia, they would be his friends. Yes, their days were all the same, with the seemingly endless hours between sunrise and dusk; and they had never read a book in their young lives, and didn’t understand when the boy told them about the sights of the cities. They were content with just food and water, and, in exchange, and — once in awhile their meat…” (That was mostly in context here is my favorite part…)

    “If I became a monster today, and decided to kill them, one by one, they would become aware only after most of the flock had been slaughtered, thought the boy. They trust me, and they’ve forgotten how to rely on their own instincts, because I lead them to nourishment.”

    Who thinks like that?

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