Considering how much I despised the first five chapters of 50 Shades of Grey, it’s surprising (especially to me) how enraptured I became with the story.
It would be easy to assume that the highly sexual story line is what reeled me in and in all honesty it did add an element that kept me interested, noticeable by my sizeable smile and simultaneous open jaw sitting on the floor.
I knew my view had turned when I went from solely listening in my Yurbuds while heading out to run, to carrying my phone in my bra so that I could push play every time the kids left the room. I became hooked. Desperate to know what was next. Eager for the ride and excited for the journey.
In any language and on any continent this kind of reaction is motivation for a writer. Being so beguiling that the reader can’t put you down is the essence of the job; the goal. No one wants to write a snore.
When I was teaching fourth grade writing, we often spoke about the difference between telling the story and showing the story; the goal was always the showing.
In 50 Shades, so much was told using the same words et nausea that the writing appear labored and simple, even when the words themselves were sophisticated (thesaurus usage can be deadly).
How many times was she going to say his mouth fell in a hard line? How often did we need to be told that she had an inner goddess who hid behind chairs and sofas and under blankets? Yes, I understand he looked at her speculatively and with grey eyes. Biting her bottom lip? Got it. The symbol for the power struggle
But it may have been E.L. James’ master plan. Her brilliance as a writer being kept secret until she was ready to share.
The choice to make Anastasia’s voice so repetitive was in direct opposition to the voice that was exposed when her innocence was being challenged.
This was where the real beauty of the writing came alive and convinced me of Ms. James’ true talent in the authoring department.
Granted, the scenes in the red room of pain, the bondage, the frightened girl who became totally immersed and connected in the moments of her fear revealed deep emotion mixed with gut wrenching descriptiveness highlighting some really glorious writing.
It was enough to make me forgive those wasted first chapters. Maybe they weren’t wasted after all.
Last night I started to read The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.
Four pages in, I have a picture of Aibileen. Through the story showing and Aibileen’s dialogue (shortened sentence structure, double negatives and misplaced use of words) I have an idea of who she is. I like her immediately. Read the first four pages and you’ll like her, too. Kathryn Stockett created a new and interesting character with a voice I want to hear.
I should probably apologize to Ms. James for my initial incertitude toward to her book. I still wish she hadn’t used the C word so much and feel like s.h.i.t would have been just as appropriate. It would have saved me from my personal challenge to count the word in question, pulling me out of the story thirty two times, give or take a few.
I went to be last night working out the first lines (of one of my books) that will be written in it’s own time.
It will go something like this…
I was handed to my mother three days after I was born. Wrapped in a pink blanket she carefully pulled me from the hands of the lawyer, anxious to leave before Loretta had a chance to change her mind. I was bald and pretty, despite the ears that were far too big for my head. My brown eyes looked up at my new mother, whose own brown eyes matched mine exactly.
I couldn’t have known then what I learned all those years later. That my beginning was a gift and that I was saved.
I couldn’t have known the truth. I wouldn’t have believed it had come written in ink and pinned to my clothes.
I was the lucky one.
My older sisters, just two and three, waited in a run down house halfway across town as I was being given away. They knew nothing of me. They knew not of their mothers’ illness. They didn’t have a chance. Weren’t granted even a molecule of a future.