June 17, 2005

Sentimental or Emotional?

A very interesting discussion on The Elegant Variation about sentimentality in fiction. The subject is Nicole Krause's The History of Love which is in my TBR pile.

as a reader, I do seek to be moved, even as I remain alive to the traps of sentiment that are cheap and easy and, worst of all, manipulative.

I often find that the parts of my own work that I must watch most closely are those which delve into emotional terrain. And yet, despite the pitfalls, those passages are often the most rewarding to get right.

Here's a paragraph I spent hours on, trying to figure out a way to describe how much a guy loves his daughter:

Menscher stood in the doorway, letting his eyes adjust to the light filtering into the room from the nightlight in the bathroom, his ears becoming attuned to the sound of her breathing. Gradually he was able to untangle the visual puzzle of long limbs, brown hair and pink sheets to recognize that she was sailing east-northeast in her northward-bound bed. Holding his breath, he crossed the creaking floor to primly cover one leg with the sheet even though it was warm enough to sleep without covers.

Re-reading it now, the writing still feels a little on-the-nose, but I'm trying to encode some pretty complex emotions in there.

Posted by krudman at June 17, 2005 08:50 AM | TrackBack
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