Writing dialogues is a new trick, I'm enjoying playing with them. Sending off a conversation, with no description of the characters, leaving you, the reader, free to imagine nearly everything. In a time when nearly every form of entertainment is over explained for the stupid, blunt and crass, I like the idea of crediting the audience with imagination.
I've spent the last two months doing not much more than listening to audio books, catching up with some great old novels. Some are narrated by the same voice throughout, others by a series of readers. Each narrator imagines the characters differently, and so reads them differently. Frankly it is a little annoying., it has altered my view of what reading is. Reading is an interpretation, through your eyes, of some words on a page. All the writer does is spark your imagination, trace an outline for you to fill in.
Milan Kundera once included a short dictionary of key words in a novel, so there could be no mistaking what he meant. He set down some key points of agreement, some foundations to build on. He knew that every human defines every word differently. This dictionary device was a little tongue in cheek, an acceptance that once the novel was printed It was out of his hands, free to live in your imagination.
Earlier this year I gave a girlfriend a copy of my favourite novel, J. D. Salinger's Franny And Zooey. She didn't like it, that Zooey guy went on and on, too much talking. For me that monologue is genius, builds tension towards the payoff, the payoff that made me cry the first time I read it. At the same time someone I shared a house with told me that Anna Karenina was the most boring book ever, all the characters did was repeat themselves, over and over again. What else do humans do in times of great emotional uncertainty? That little voice in our heads won't shut up, won't give us a moment of peace. Tolstoy nailed it for me. Different imaginations, same words on the page, different responses. Of course they were both wrong, I'd go into literary battle with Salinger and Tolstoy on my side rather than those two readers.
Writing some words, sending them out into the world like brave little soldiers, at the mercy of your imaginations, what a fun thing to do. Those words go on an adventure, set sail for distant lands I will never see. I envy them.
The less I explain, the more freedom I give to your imagination, the greater the adventure. Fly away little words, be free!