Monday, June 30, 2014

Writing Acoustically

with guest Cynthia Ruchti


I wake every morning with a song on my heart. I don’t hear the notes in my ears. They resonate in my mind and soul. Tune, lyrics, inflections, crescendos, notes held an extra beat at the peak of emotion… The mind can perform unfathomable feats—like playing music when there is no sound.

Readers “hear” vocal inflections from a book’s characters. They hear slammed doors and sizzling bacon, tires crunching on gravel, the beep and wheeze of life support machines.

Heated dialogue crescendos to a two-handed tympani boom or emotional cymbal crash. Lyrical sentences form a pastoral accompaniment to the narrative, when done well. A romantic scene? Violins, of course!

         credit NBC/courtesy of Neal Peters Collection
[Can’t help thinking of Rosanne Rosannadanna’s SNL comedic uproar over all the “sax and violins” on television these days.]

What does it mean to know that readers’ minds and souls can hear what we write, that an internal sound and rhythm pattern plays within as they read our novels? Readers, what does it mean for you?
         

We deepen the experience for readers if we learn to write acoustically.

•    Writing for the ear.
•    Writing words, sentences, and scenes that reverberate.
•    Writing small things that can be heard from far distances because of the acoustic structure we’ve created.
•    Writing word choices that enhance the musicality of our story, with an ear for pace and rhythm.
•    Writing so readers wake in the morning with our story’s song on their hearts.

How do we write for the ear?

In high school English Composition class, we learned about words with impact from the sound they infer: sizzle, stomp, flap, grate, ooze, prickle, boom, snap…  Onomatopoeia—words that imitate natural sounds.

And sibilance:

Sibilance is a manner of articulation of fricative and affricate consonants, made by directing a stream of air with the tongue towards the sharp edge of the teeth, which are held close together. (Wikipedia)

Huh?

Oh! Hissing or shushing sounds, as in sip, shop, zip, ship, snake, zoo, shun…

We studied concepts like alliteration:

The cold clamp clung to the captain’s career. (Wouldn’t you like to read that story?)
Damp and dark, the dank interior of the dungeon deepened his depression and despair. 
image courtesy Salvatore Vuono FreeDigitalPhotos


A whole novel’s worth of sentences like that could deepen MY despair. But used frugally, alliteration can pound a rhythm as skillfully as Stomp—the entertainment group or the word. Sound plays an important role in:

•    creating tension (Her ribs rattled against each other under his lecherous gaze. Could he hear?)
•    setting the stage (The shushing of the willow branches overhead soothed her like the lullabies she’d forgotten.)                     
•    establishing characterization (Her father crashed into the room, dislodging bits of plaster that hailed down on her with a tick, tick-tick-tick.)

Sound plays an important role in:

•    creating tension (Her ribs rattled against each other under his lecherous gaze. Could he hear?)
•    setting the stage (The shushing of the willow branches overhead soothed her like the lullabies she’d forgotten.)                     
•    establishing characterization (Her father crashed into the room, dislodging bits of plaster that hailed down on her with a tick, tick-tick-tick.)

How do we write in a way that reverberates within the mind and heart as a guitar string continues to vibrate long after it’s touched? 



Some books and genres lend themselves easily to this concept. Literary fiction or emotion-packed women’s fiction find it a natural fit. Memorable phrases. Quotables.

But every novel has the opportunity to strike a chime that echoes in a reader’s soul. It may be laughter that rings on. Or increased compassion. Or a new way of looking at faith, relationships, fear, the future.

Those passages, scenes, or phrases, even a single word—“FRRREE-DOM!”—can create a melodic resonance, a song that loops through the mind whether awake or asleep.

How do we make small voice-passages sing far and long?

Mel Gibson did it with his one word—“FREEDOM!” It’s a scene that told the whole movie’s story in seven letters. 
My sisters and I sang for a family funeral years ago. As we took the platform and stood behind the podium in the massive church, we noticed the absence of a microphone. The acoustics in the sanctuary were carefully engineered to make artificial amplification unnecessary.  

How do authors accomplish that in stories? By architectural design. By attention to even the smallest detail of a scene. Are there unnecessary detail-drapes that soak up sound rather than amplify it? Are the airwaves clogged with secondary character voices that don’t matter to the story? Is the story so noisy that the important voice—or Voice—has a hard time being heard?

Making a scene or story musical and memorable doesn’t necessarily mean adding lyrical sounding words. Sometimes it means stripping everything that gets in the way.

Novice writers may hear critiques about the language or dialogue or even the length of paragraphs not being appropriate for their genre or the tone of the book.

•    A split-second car/semi impact that takes four paragraphs to describe
•    The deathbed scene that’s over in a sentence.
•    A love/hate relationship resolved with a single kiss
•    A prairie fire told in long, poetic phrases as if the flames were sauntering toward the soddy
•    The chase scene bogged by pages of internal dialogue


Writers who read their work aloud often discover places where the musicality of their story fell apart. They stumble over awkward, pace-inhibiting words. They run out of breath before the end of the cumbersome sentence. They struggle to sustain dramatic momentum in the scene. Too many words. Or not the right words. Or patched together without the artistry that makes music of sentences.

How do we write so our readers will wake in the morning with our story’s song on their hearts?

Like any other musician, we practice. We work at our craft until we can move past the mechanics, but not skip over the mechanics. We practice until we know instinctively when we’ve hit a wrong note. We open ourselves to the process of FEELING the music, not just playing the correct pattern of notes and rests, rhythms, dynamics.

And we focus on telling the stories worth remembering in the morning.

Readers, writers, what author or book best demonstrates what you consider “musical” writing? You may have an answer from each of several genres. Let’s talk about them.



Author and speaker Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark. Her novels, novellas, and non-fiction (how’s that for alliteration?) have won or been finalists in the Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s Best, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Family Fiction Readers’ Choice, the Carol Awards, the Golden Scrolls, and more. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, near their three children and five grandchildren. Cynthia currently serves as American Christian Fiction Writers’ professional relations liaison.  www.cynthiaruchti.com, www.facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage, www.twitter.com/cynthiaruchti, www.goodreads.com/cynthiaruchti


Her latest release is All My Belongings,from Abingdon Press Fiction, of which PW said, “Exquisitely detailed, balancing a beautifully written, engaging (love
story) with a message of peace and
grace in the face of adversity.”


Comment today for an opportunity to win a copy of All My Belongings. Winner Announced in the Weekend Edition.


99 comments:

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm first????? I'm FIRST????? How can that be, did Blogger like get ill and faint dead away overnight?????? Posting this quickly to maintain FIRST STATUS!!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Okay, now that I've ascertained that I'm truly first, (Cynthia, this never happens, where are our midnight on the East Coast, West Coast friends??????) let me just say this was BRILLIANT

And I'm not blowing sunshine at you, I'm not la-ti-dahing a thin post tossed up by a rushed author, this post rings of intuition, intelligence and inspiration.

Cynthia, my hat's off to you because this is a printer-off-er. For real. For always.

Too often we forget the music of the verse, the combinations of letters, short-to-long, structured variances. And that's what makes the emotion of a story sing to me.

Brava. Brava. Brava. And thank you, I'm totally loving this.

Ruthy

Ruth Logan Herne said...

COFFEE IS HERE!!!! AND DANISH!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I Let You Be First, Ruthy.

lol

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, Cynthia.

I have read this post, no kidding, three times and am still absorbing the details.

Congratulations on your TWO Christian Retailing awards!!

Jackie said...

Cynthia,

First let me say what an inviting book cover. Beautiful.

I never considered writing acoustically. I'm sure I don't. I'm editing my WIP now, so I'll consider all you said today to make my story sing. (Isn't that what Karen Ball looks for? :) )

Have a great day!

Mary Hicks said...

I can't believe I'm third!!!

Cynthia, wonderful information! I hung on every word and I'm going to read it again when I've had my coffee.

Thanks!!

Mary Hicks said...

And you do have a beautiful cover.

I'd love to win a copy, please drop my name in the pot. :-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tina Radcliffe I love you for letting me be first!!!! Notes of the Hallelujah chorus are running through my head followed by the theme from Rocky!!!!

Just picture me running/dashing/racing up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, just like Rocky did!!!!!

Should I admit that I have done this very thing in Philly, along with every other goofy college parent/tourist who visits the art museum?????

JUST TO RUN THE STEPS??????

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Now everyone should have the theme from "Rocky" in their heads ALL DAY....

Gonna Fly Now/Theme from "Rocky"

It is also my ringtone on my phone. Go big or stay home.

:)

Kav said...

Wow -- I'm gobsmacked...again...by how much I still have to learn. Writing acoustically. I'm still absorbing it all. What really resonated with me is this bit:

"Are there unnecessary detail-drapes that soak up sound rather than amplify it?"

That's definitely something I struggle with. I love the way you describe it though -- I think it will stick with me more now. Hope that makes sense.

Kav said...

I'm going to go with the two most recent books I've read for examples.

First up is Firewall by DiAnn Mills. A taut suspense, she uses measured words to draw out that tension. I'm on edge just reading it. I'd say her acoustics would be a battalion of percussion instruments but she softens the edge sometimes when the hero and heroine are together. The change in pace makes the reader pay attention -- savor every nuance of the scene because you know that peaceful interlude can't possibly last.

Stark contrast to that is The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim. She has a lush writing style. A reader just wants to sink into it. Lots of rich details that create vivid images. You feel like you have all the time in the world to just be in her words.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

This is a bazillion cymbal crashes of fun! Thanks for posting, everyone. Love the comments. I've been considering this concept for a while and its changing me. The way we "cast" words or phrasing is almost as important as the way we cast characters. Can't wait to hear what other writers and readers have to say on this subject.

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, CYNTHIA ... I'm with Ruthy ... this is BRILLIANT!!

I read once that writing beautiful prose is a detriment to a good book because if a line is too well written, the reader might stop mid-stream to reread the sentence over and over again, savoring it so much, that he or she is pulled out of the story.

NOT!! Story is very important, no question, but words are, too, like stopping briefly to admire a sunset ocean view while traveling the famous 17-Mile Drive from Carmel to Monterey to Big Sur. Yes, it halts you in your path, but it also soothes, enriches, and excites the reader to continue on in something that goes beyond the ordinary.

Rhythm and sound and literary "acoustics" have always been incredibly important to me. I love the beauty and flow of words in a novel, and your clips from All My Belongings are wonderful!

The first author who comes to mind for me with both "scenic"and "acoustic" writing is Laura Frantz because with her prose, one sees, feels, and hears every nuance of the setting and scene, sweeping the reader away into a world that far transcends a flat parchment page or finger-smudged Kindle screen.

EXCELLENT post and and as Ruthy said, a definite "printer-off-er."

Hugs,
Julie

Cynthia Ruchti said...

I think in our writing, depending on the style, genre, and pace of the story, what we're doing is writing for the soul's ear. It may be the actual sound of the words, or the feeling they evoke, or something much deeper--how they echo in the soul.

Marianne Barkman said...

I loved your post .. I'm already getting the book, and really looking forward to reading it

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Oh, that's right! There's a book involved! I just finished editing the one that releases in 2015, and was reminded as I wrote of how the rhythm of the words mimicked the setting. Hmmm. Have to wait until 2015 for that one. But in All My Belongings, I hope the word choices and the way they rise and fall on the page sound like an audio book not yet recorded. :)

Tracey Hagwood said...

What an awesome article Cynthia! As a reading lover and wannabe writer your words really resonated with me (now there's an acoustic writing word for you-sympathic vibration :) You've identified for me exactly the reason we are drawn to one author or another,the pulse and timing of the words, the flow and feel. Isn't it amazing that 26 letters formed into words can form an entire book and make us feel so much?!

Onomatopoeia and alliteration~I'm instantly transported back to Mrs. Freemans high school English class, the words have a rhythm to them all there own.

Beautiful Cover on All My Belonings! I adore the line in your quote, "..waiting for God to have the final say". That's definitely a life goal for me in more area than one!

I'm sure I'll be adding your book to my reading list, so I'd enjoy winning a copy.

@Ruthy, love your line, "This post rings of instruction, intelligence and inspiration." It has an alliterating rhythm to it :)

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Love these observations, Tracey. Happy reading.

Janet Dean said...

Cynthia, welcome to Seekerville! Thank you for this inspiring post! I will be savoring your wisdom again as you've given us a lot to ponder, both practical tips and that indefinable magic that we recognize when we “hear” it on page.

I think it helps to read our words aloud, even to speak them as we write. I usually forget to do this, but when I do it's like breathing the words onto the page.

I think of Anna Lamott and Elizabeth Berg, authors that write acoustically.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Cynthia, All My Belongings looks and sounds wonderful! As a person, you embody a charming quality that blesses all who know you.

Janet

Tracey Hagwood said...

Oh, Cynthia, that last line, "I hope the word choices and the way they rise and fall on the page sound like an audio book not yet recorded", you've nailed it again. Really good books do that for the reader, but even more so. I liken it to having a movie running in my mind, because I can see, hear and feel it. And yes, at times you can even use your other two senses and taste and touch whats happening on the page. Lovely!

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Thank you, Janet. If I skip the reading aloud part when I'm writing, I lose something. That process always makes me discover unnecessarily repetitive words, or spots where intentionally repeating a word or phrase would add an almost musical punctuation to the thought.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Yes, Tracey! Taste and touch! An all-encompassing reading experience.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I've learned to trust my ears. If you read it aloud your ear really tells you where the problems are. You may not be able to pinpoint the problem right away but at least you have an awareness that something just isn't right.

Go with the ears.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

When I teach writing workshops about editing, I heavily lean on the technique of reading aloud. If the author stumbles over a passage or a sentence, the reader will double-stumble! It's in reading it aloud that we get deeper immersed in the wholeness of the story, if that makes sense.

Jana Vanderslice said...

FYI... I'll be in the hospital for a while (maybe 5-7 days???).

Please pray for me if you think about it!
1. for less pain & some sleep
2. for good nurses who will help (really impt!!)
3. MOST IMPT!!!! For GOD to use this situation to show off how MIGHTY & LOVING & INCREDIBLE that HE IS!!

Thank you so much!! I will miss you ladies. It's a long, complicated story, so I'll fill you in later.

And it's OK! My God is So Big! He has ALWAYS been FAITHFUL to use this as a GIFT in my LIFE!!!! I sure Love Him!!

"The Lord says to you: ‘Do Not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the BATTLE is NOT YOURS, but GOD'S!" 2 Chronicles 20:15

Phil 1:21 "To Live is CHRIST & to Die is Gain!""

***I probably won't be able to post here on blogger from my phone but will post on facebook. You can friend me. I'm supposed to be the only "Jana Vanderslice" on fb, & I have the same profile pic as here.

Pam Hillman said...

Wonderful. Reminds me of a few times when a musician (inexperienced drummer or guitarist) runs away with a song in church.

I'm not much of a singer or a musician, but even I can recognize when the pace is like a runaway horse on a beloved hymn I've song all my life.

Hmmm, heading off for one final read of my novella, this time I'm looking for pacing (ie. beat), musical notes and acoustical clarity! :)

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Great analogy, Pam! Some songs, some stories, have a tempo that is so vital to the experience that it suffers if "the drummer runs away with it."

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, and Cynthia is a master of words, written and spoken.

Just last week at ICRS, we were chatting with a radio personality and Cynthia and the woman sat down on the spot and did a short interview. I have PICTURES to proove it! I was blown away.

I stalked Cyn all week just to listen to her interact with people.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Pam, you make me smile!

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome Cynthia! This is definitely a "keeper" post! Sounds coming alive on paper and the rhythm of words are so evocative, drawing a reader ever deeper into the emotion of a scene. Thank you for the reminder and wonderful examples!

Cynthia Ruchti said...

This is a discussion that I'm so enjoying, Glenna. Thanks for your comments.

Glynna Kaye said...

JANA -- I'm putting you in my prayers!

Mary Connealy said...

Such beautiful phrasing.

Prose...even poetry.

It kinda makes me solving all my plot problems by shooting someone seem.................

WRONG

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Chuckling, Mary. But death does have its own dance. :)

Mary Connealy said...

I should try to be more literary.

:(

I could probably do it.

But in most literary fiction, doesn't the heroine end up dead?

I mean apart from the lovely language, right?

Mary Connealy said...

Has anyone ever read Dean Koonz? His writing rises at times almost to the level of poetry.

Poetry and beauty broken by shock and horror.

I had to quit reading him. Apparently poetic horror stick in my head MORE then normal horror.

And I don't read horror at all, just can't. But he tricked me with a few less gristly books and then I read VELOCITY.

DO NOT DO IT!!!

Wilani Wahl said...

Jana, I'll be praying.

Cynthia, I loved your post. I would love to win a copy of your book.

Tina, I just finished typing the first 3 chapters of my wip. I am printing it out now to see if there are any glaring errors. I should be able to send it to you this afternoon.

Plus I am doing reading for one author who has a deadline This is going to be a great day even if it is raining outside.

Meghan Carver said...

Hi, Cynthia! Congratulations on all those awards! I loved seeing all your photos on Facebook. This post just proves that you are the Queen of Acoustics. Even your blog posts are beautiful in my ears. I'm printing this out for future reference and encouragement. I would also mention Susan Meissner as a writer whose words just sing as I read them.

Don't put me in the drawing. :-) I already have the book and loved every word of it!

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, CYNTHIA, and congratulations on your Christian Retailing's Best awards! How fun!!!

Brilliant post, indeed, to echo RUTHY's sentiments! I don't always read my manuscripts aloud, but I do "hear" the words in my head, both as I write and as I read, and I always notice when something doesn't "sing."

When it comes to beautifully musical writing, one of my favorites is my dear friend Carla Stewart. I'd also include Lisa Wingate and Charles Martin.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Wilani, what a beautiful name! A musical name! Meghan, I appreciate your heartwarming comments.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Good to connect with you here, Myra. And thank you. It's been an exceptional month. A total of seven awards for two different novels and my nonfiction--Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices, which is written--interestingly enough--acoustically. :) I'm awash in joy.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Way to go Wilani. Just under the deadline. THE CROWD GOES WILD!!!

Jeanne T said...

What a beautiful post, Cynthia! And I'm with Kav—the line about the drapes absorbing the beautiful music of our stories.....what a great visual. I'm working to write more acoustically, but I've got lots to learn. I loved your examples that show places where we need to sing a little more, or keep the beat staccato (i.e. a car crash, or a fire burning).

One book I loved that has such an acoustic rhythm is Rachel Hauck's The Wedding Dress. I think it's time to take it out and read again.

Thanks for giving me music to contemplate for my writing.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Ha, Jackie. Karen Ball did say that..er, sing that.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Goodness, Jana!! Praying dear.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Jeanne, that "drape" comment motivated ME to look at what I just edited, too! :) The Wedding Dress is on my to-be-read pile. Can't wait to get to it.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Jana, I neglected to let you know that I, too, am among those praying!

Tracey Hagwood said...

Jana,you have a great mindset going into the hospital, continue to put your trust in Him, He will see you through. Praying for your healing, comfort, peace, hospital care and God's blessing on your life.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I loved The Wedding Dress. Actually a really thoughtful and take me away book.

Tina Radcliffe said...

You're a busy gal, Cynthia. What is your writing day like?

Tina Radcliffe said...

And what's next for you?

Cynthia Ruchti said...

My writing days are like snowflakes--no two alike. I serve as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), which not only keeps me informed about the industry, but also requires blocks of time, sometimes big blocks. I've always been one to write primarily in the nooks and crannies of life, but when on deadline, I hunker down. Long hours. Crummy meals. Focus, focus, focus. My kids are grown and gone, so the house would be quiet--which is what I crave--if my semi-retired husband would go fishing more often!

Cynthia Ruchti said...

For 33 years, I wrote and produced a radio broadcast that called me to write fiction (the radio drama slice-of-life scenes that opened each broadcast) and non-fiction (the devotional application of biblical truth). Right now, I'm on deadline for a nonfiction that will release next year--Tattered and Mended: The Art of Healing the Soul. As soon as that's turned in to the editor, I'll start in on another novel due January 1st. The edits I turned in yesterday were for As Waters Gone By, a novel that releases next spring.

Tina Radcliffe said...

YOU ARE BUSY!@ But what fun to hear your background and what is going on in your life.

More fishing. LOL. I can relate to that.

Myra Johnson said...

LOL, Cynthia, I know all about having a semi-retired husband under foot! At least he's pretty good at keeping himself busy with projects around the house!

Chill N said...

"A split-second car/semi impact that takes four paragraphs to describe"

Cynthia, I laughed out loud at this, recognizing something I wrote in one of my first fiction pieces. Man holding woman at gunpoint. Second man sees what's happening and steps forward to save her. And then the narrative strays into a description of the weapon because the second man would have noted that detail. It took me a while to realize he would indeed note that detail, but quickly.

An informative post beautifully written.

Thanks!

Nancy

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Nancy, I'm sure we can ALL report those four paragraph split seconds we've written into--and had to delete from--our manuscripts! Thanks for sharing yours. Anyone else?

Courtney Phillips said...

Oh, this is a GOOD topic. I'm reading a beautiful book right now (A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert). The author uses such unique phrases and descriptions.
You described this so well. It's one of those things that I understand in my head but can't explain.
:)

Cynthia Ruchti said...

A Broken Kind of Beautiful is ALSO on my to-be-read pile.

DebH said...

this is a wonderful post. one more keeper to add to my toolbox for becoming a better writer. it's given me another way to look at my words or to find the right words for the scene i'm working.

thanks!!! put my name into the draw please.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Fun fact. Let's see how many notice and comment on this tidbit. The acoustically designed chapel/sanctuary photo I used within the blogpost? It was designed by my architect brother! Doesn't he do nice work?

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Thanks for your kind words, Deb.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Wow. That's pretty amazing. Where is it located?

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Tina, I'm not sure where the location of the church is. Probably Iowa, Illinois, WI, or MN…since he works out of Dubuque.

Walt Mussell said...

I have never thought about this aspect of writing in this manner.

However, when I saw the Roseanne Rosannadanna reference, I immediately thought of my favorite Gilda Radner character, Emily Litella. I will never forget when she game an editorial about "conservering this country's natural racehorses."

Cynthia Ruchti said...

No one quite like Roseanne, Walt.

Sherida Stewart said...

Cynthia! Thank you for this beautiful post. I especially like your advice to give "attention to even the smallest detail of a scene." My WIP is still in the very rough draft stage, but your suggestions will really help in the fine editing stage. I'd like to think of a title that would sing!

This is what I want to remember about why I #amwriting---"And we focus on telling the stories worth remembering in the morning." Lovely quote! Thank you!

The cover of your All My Belongings is so evocative.

Congratulations on ALL your writing success!

It is indeed fascinating that your brother's chapel doesn't need microphones.

I need to buy my very dear hubby a fishing pole.

I'm helping myself to the Danish...so glad there are some left!

JANA, praying for you!

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Love how you covered all the bases, Sherida! And thank you.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Welcome to Seekerville Cynthia. What a fun and lyrical post. smile

Thanks for the audible lesson.

Have a great day.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Love your word choices, Sandra. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yeah. About those Danish. Now gone.

So the afternoon repast is homemade chocolate chip cookies and a fruit bowl. Let that lyrically slid over your tongue.

Debby Giusti said...

Cynthia,
So wonderful having you with us. Sorry I'm dropping in late.

BUT...drum roll!!! I just finished a manuscript and it's flying--via the Net--to my editor's desk in NYC.

Yes, I'm hearing music and singing, Oh Joy, Oh Joy!

Lovely post. Such great information that I need to re-read and savor. Thank you for your insight and for sharing your "music" with us today!

Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Reaching for a chocolate chip cookie.

Thank you, Tina! :)

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Thanks, Debby. Have a cookie for me, too. I assume no one brought gluten free but delicious???

Debby Giusti said...

Admiring your brother's chapel. Seems talent runs in your family, Cynthia!

Debby Giusti said...

Are you gluten-intolerant?

My 6 yr old grandson is. Quite a few Seeker Villagers are as well.

Debby Giusti said...

The Art of Healing the Soul caught my eye and ear, Cynthia. Can you tell us more about the book?

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Yes. I actually--do we talk about these things here?--have Celiac disease. But I'm also trying to eliminate sugar from my diet at the moment, which would explain why I'm incoherent. :)

Cynthia Ruchti said...

This nonfiction--Tattered and Mended: The Art of Healing the Soul--is a follow-up to Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices, although they're both stand-alones. I'm convinced God's healing is artistic, and that we too often opt for throwing something away when it's broken or torn rather than doing the hard work of mending or submitting to His artistry. We'd rather give a shirt to Goodwill than sew on a loose button. That creates an atmosphere that also tosses friendships when they hit a snag. Or marriages. The book releases in 2015 (I think in the summer or early fall). My fiction and nonfiction all tell stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark. I feel as if the characters from my novels should read my nonfiction! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Lovely, Cynthia. I do think we have become a feel-good society. Hard work is not embraced. Except in the writing world, of course.

Throw-away marriages, relationships, commitments, etc. You're so right.

Glad you found out about having Celiacs. Wasn't long ago that folks--even docs--didn't recognize the symptoms, as I'm sure you're well aware. Knowing the problem is key. We had a girl in our church who was so, so sick. I kept wondering if gluten could be the problem. Finally, she was tested. Now she's healthy, strong and so beautiful.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

So happy for that young woman at your church, Debby. And thanks for those insights that may well work their way into the book! :)

Pam Hillman said...

I'm joining Debby!!! I just turned in my novella, This Land is Our Land to Barbour. Happy, happy, happy.

Taking a short...really short ... break, then will have to put my nose to the grindstone again.

Debra E. Marvin said...

What a treat and great reminder of what makes a book sing.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Thanks Debra and Pam. I find that the books I most enjoy reading are the ones that leave an echo that never fades.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jana!!!!! Praying for your successful surgery and full recovery! Now remember there's NO REASON NOT TO WRITE IN THE HOSPITAL!!!!

That's my little ray of sunshine for you, darling! :)

I'm late getting back, but I love that we had so many folks willing to say how much they appreciated this well-thought post. Cynthia, it rocks. Absolutely.

And the Dean Koontz thing? Yes, that makes it CREEPIER and it sticks longer and that's just bad....

I don't need help keeping creepy/scary images in my head. EEEK!

:)

And it's a tricky practice, if a writer uses too much, I find myself wondering who they're trying to impress???? And if it's sprinkled here and there, with a purpose, it makes the book/story/article come alive.

Timing is essential. I miss Gilda Radner. We support her charity here annually because she was such a joy and her desire to help others battling cancer has been such an inspiration to so many.

GO GILDA.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Chocolate chip cookies?????

IN.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

I don't know if I mentioned it, but acoustic writing is the opposite of purple prose, where everything is exceptional, with three adjectives per noun, and every phrase is part of a freight train of word pictures…the kind that makes us put our cars into park while we wait for it to pass. Acoustic writing is actually trimmer than we might think. But the words are intentional. The verbs fit the rhythm and pace of the action. The descriptions are more "Let It Go" than "Flight of the Bumble Bee." :) There's so much truth to the idea that if the writing is what leaves the impression, the story will suffer. The writing is the accompaniment to the soloist--the story.

Chill N said...

There's so much truth to the idea that if the writing is what leaves the impression, the story will suffer.

Wow, Cynthia, so glad I checked back and saw this. A quote to add to my list :-)

Nancy C

Cynthia Ruchti said...

I'm glad you checked back, too, Nancy!

Lyndee H said...

Hi Cynthia,
Reading my work aloud really helps me pinpoint tempo issues. I enjoy the connection between words and music and realize when my musical training comes out through the typed word. Great tips and advice. Thanks!

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Thank you, Lyndee. So many musical pieces tell a story. It's no wonder there's some crossover!

Mary Preston said...

What a great post. As a reader I do love it when the words sing.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Tongue in cheek, without intending to adulterate Maya Angelo's title, I say to Mary, "I know why the caged words sing!"

THANK YOU, SEEKERVILLE, for allowing me this privilege! It's always a joy to visit, talk writing or books or life, and interact with your readers.

Press on!

jubileewriter said...

I loved the musically of the lesson taught here. Cynthia, you always bring something of value to the table. I love learning from you.
Cindy Huff

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Thank you, Cindy. Great to "see" you here!

Missy Tippens said...

Cynthia, I've been away finishing a book. Just turned it in last night and got to drop by. What a great post! You've described something that I feel but haven't really read much about. Now I want to use it more in my own writing! Thank you for sharing!

Cynthia Ruchti said...

Glad you made it, Missy! And thanks for your comments. I'm more focused on the concept now, too!