While I’ve been gone the past few weeks, busy with a community theatre production, I developed a teensy crush. Actually, it’s bigger than teensy. I’m entranced.
During my time off stage, I began reading F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s second novel, “The Beautiful and the Damned“. “This Side of Paradise” was good. “The Great Gatsby” was amazing. I didn’t think anything could top the glorious descriptions he laid on paper of high society and the perils of unrequited love. Is there a greater line than, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” in all of literature?
But then I picked up “The Beautiful and the Damned” and found that F. Scott’s writing can, and does, get better. I’m only thirty-nine pages in and I’ve found myself highlighting descriptions that make my skin tingle. “…with books gleaming like ornaments against the walls, and Maury radiating a divine inertia as he rested, large and catlike, in his favorite chair.” I never thought of my books gleaming like ornaments. My bookshelves bring a whole new joy with that description.
Then, there is his description of Gloria. “Well, I can’t describe her exactly-except to say that she was beautiful. She was-tremendously alive. She was eating gum-drops.” I can just see a beautiful woman with sparkling eyes popping gum-drops. Gum-drops! Who would have thought? It only proves that the smallest detail in characterization can make the biggest impact on the readers perception.
My favorite part was a chapter called “A Flash-Back in Paradise”. One of the most beautiful chapters, written entirely in dialogue. Gloria came alive in her words.
I was thrilled by his choice to write entire blocks of dialogue with no tags. To know that it can be done by a great master of literature gives me courage as I face this new novel. As I was working through the idea in my mind over the past year, I decided to write the entire novel in blocks of description alternating with blocks of dialogue. I knew that it would be a challenge, but knowledge that my literary hero was able to dip his toes into a daunting task gives me hope and courage.
Now that the production is finished, I return to writing.
To my dear friend, Liberal, here are the pictures that I promised.