Sunday, August 27, 2017

What Writers Say, Part 21: Francois Mauriac on Overthinking Technique

Nobel laureate Francois Mauriac expressed disdain for obsessing over what he called technique, claiming that the younger novelists of his time "think a good novel ought to follow certain rules imposed from outside. In fact, however, this preoccupation hampers them and embarrasses them in their creation."

Mauriac said he eschewed formulaic writing as a means to achieving a naivete essential to the sense of spontaneity he wished his audience to experience when reading his work. "A borrowed style is a bad style," he insisted.

This simple advice is not easy to heed when analyzing one's plot, characters, narrative, and dialogue. Mauriac would suggest that an author's preconceived notions kill good stories. His admonishment might be a good impetus for free-writing, the technique of writing for a set period without attention to structure, grammar, diction, and even content.