Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lyrical prose

Sometimes you run across language that absolutely delights. Not particularly because of the information it's conveying. It's something that goes much deeper.

One of my favorite all-time authors is Jay Williams who wrote over seventy children's books in decades past. His picture books are an absolute delight with their turn-the-tale endings and sheer imagination. I collect his books and was going through my shelf to see if I might have found a new gem to add. It turns out I already owned a collection with that particular story and I got lost in the delight of his worlds again.

And I found this:

"Fred was good-looking and bright, but he was very absent-minded. This was because his head was full of music."
From "Forgetful Fred" in "The Practical Princess and other Liberating Fairy Tales" by Jay Williams, illustrated by Rick Schreiter.

So much for show-don't-tell! But this works magic in me every time I read it. I get the same sort of thrill from "Sarah Plain and Tall" or even "Mrs. Tibbet's Typewriter". It's a beautiful simplicity that goes straight to the heart of the story. And isn't that what storytellers always hope to do?

But sometimes the business of writing takes the luster off the joy. The scuff of editing leaves us hoping there is still a gem to shine through when we're finished. And when that happens, I go back to my bookshelf and dive into the writers and illustrators that remind me why I hope to follow in their footsteps.

It's a beautiful thing.


Vonnie said...

I've been told that my style of writing is lyrical prose. I found your site while I was looking for other examples of it. I don't any books published...yet, but I have sold a few articles and poems to some magazines.
Thank you for posting this.

Yvonne Blake

vjc said...

Hi, Yvonne - nice to "meet" you! Another example of lyrical prose (according to my husband) is Watership Down. He would get so excited about it, he'd follow me around the house reading passages to me.

All the best to you and your writing. I somewhat envy you the lyrical - I've never felt that's my forte but I sure enjoy getting caught up in it.

- Val