Auckland Writers Festival – leaving out the wheat threshing scenes.

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Day 1

US author Amy Bloom is a great observer of human nature, the back stage stuff. It is that which interests her and she writes about. She leaves out the wheat threshing scenes and that got me thinking….

Am I guilty of dwelling on how the character got across the room, opened a door or got dressed? Am I guilty of including the mundane, the wheat threshing scenes?

This very successful author, who also writes for television and the New Yorker, teaches creative writing. She talked about not being able to teach talent but also not assuming that the ’20-year-old hot mess’ in front of her could one day become a success.

So, if it’s not to late, it’s not something you’re born with and it’s not something that is taught and it is in fact experience, time and practice there is hope for me yet. So now I’ve got my pen out and I’m poised to take notes.

What she does teach her students is that just because they have seen it, doesn’t mean anyone else wants to read about it. She uses the example of a very detailed scene of someone crossing a room and opening a door.

She argues what is interesting is the people, relationships, interactions and responses and that takes close observation without ego or assumption.

How people look is not how they are. What they say is not what they mean.

It’s that gap between the road and the curb that is interesting.

My final takeaway thought on this cool, wet Auckland morning, as I make my way to the coffee stand for a long awaited and much anticipated Allpress coffee?

Dwell in great detail on that which matters then move along. Assume the reader is intelligent and they know how to open a door. Amy Bloom, Auckland Writers Festival, 2015.

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5 thoughts on “Auckland Writers Festival – leaving out the wheat threshing scenes.

  1. Just wanted to say that I loved your Day 1 Auckland R&W’s post. I think Amy Bloom is right on the money – wheat from chaff – and I think you should take her advice onboard – she gets it!

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  2. Thank-goodness! Trying to ensure that you’ve given the reader everything they need can get tricky. Sometimes it feels like you’re labouring stuff just so that there’s no chance of ANYONE getting confused or lost. I guess it’s those times when you should listen to your gut and pull back.
    A nice piece of writing advice. I’m going to use it. Thanks Amanda…looking forward to Day 2.

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  3. I love that – assume the reader is intelligent – I think trusting others intelligence gives them so much more space to bring their intelligence. Thanks!

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