Inspired Style in Melissa Marr’s WICKED LOVELY

20 04 2010

I recently finished reading Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr.

I enjoyed the book not only because I was fascinated with the story but also because Marr’s writing style gave me something to savor as I read. It was little things–the descriptions she used, particular word choices, and interweaving of different characters’ viewpoints.

A simple example comes from a conversation between two characters on page 219:

As he smiled at her reassuringly, she could smell wild roses, fresh-cut hay, bonfires—things she didn’t think she’d ever been around, but knew nonetheless in that moment.
Solemnly he nodded. “My word, Aislinn. I swore to you that your wishes would be as my own as often as I am able. I keep my vows.”
“I was so afraid. I mean, not that you would” —she broke off and grimaced, realizing what she’d implied— “it’s just that . . .”
“What can you expect of a faery, right?” He gave her a wry grin, looking surprisingly normal for a faery king. “I’ve read the mortals’ stories of us, too. They aren’t untrue.”
She took a deep breath, tasting those strange summer scents on her tongue.
I like this interchange for several reasons:
  1. Marr has a certain linguistic flair in the very first sentence when she writes “things she didn’t think she’d ever been around, but knew nonetheless in that moment.” Isn’t that a beautiful sentence? If you don’t agree, just say it out loud and notice how good it feels as it rolls off your tongue. It’s not just the words–it’s the flow of the language.
  2. Aislinn, one of the participants in the conversation, is having a hard time articulating what she’s trying to say because the conversation is about a challenging topic (I won’t give it away). Marr lets us, as readers, feel that awkwardness without making the passage painful. Notice how Aislinn can’t really get out an entire sentence, and the other character in the conversation feels that and doesn’t force the issue. Not once do either of the characters explicitly mention what is being discussed, yet the readers follow along seamlessly.
  3. Without going back and re-mentioning the previously mentioned scents, she weaves it back into the narrative and then moves on. She reminds readers that Aislinn still has the strong sensation of being surrounded by those summer scents but doesn’t “tell” the readers that. She “shows” them by saying that Aislinn could “tast[e] those strange summer scents on her tongue.” Another beautiful phrase!
When I write, I hope I can take a lesson from Marr’s writing style and let my readers feel what the characters are feeling without overtly stating those emotions.
Have you read a book recently that has inspired your own writing journey?
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