Tomorrow, March 2nd, is the 85th anniversary of the death of D H. Lawrence. We’re reposting this from our old blog in commemoration.
In the course of her travels Gert has taken to listening to novels downloaded from the free site LibriVox (LibriVox.org) and has discovered that writers’ tics and foibles leap out at her as they don’t when she is reading, particularly if the book is one she’s read more than once, as is the case with Women in Love. She was reminded of How not to write a novel (Mittelmark & Newman)*. DHL needs a stern editor to remove all adverbs, restrict adjectives to one per noun, allow only “said” as a dialogue marker and come down heavily on all scenes involving horses or cattle. The scene in which Gudrun performs Dalcroze movements to a herd of surprised cattle made Gert laugh and laugh, as did Hermione’s standing-up orgasm as she bashes Birkin on the head with a lapis lazuli paperweight.
Results of a scientific word-count:
1) loins – the runaway winner, followed by
2) queer (as part of an adjective chain describing facial expressions or tones of voice)
3) swoon, -ed, -ing
Loins, queer, swoon, inchoate – there you have the DHL project. A friend has also pointed out his fascination with women’s stockings, sashes and hats, while the males are all loins.*
The good news, though is that Sons & Lovers stands up well to the iPod test. The tenderness and psychological insight with which Lawrence creates the Morels’ world are matchless and there’s real vitality, the deep vitality that Lawrence worshipped in human relations, not the puffed-up, strained-for vitality that Women in Love bangs on about so tiresomely.
Lorenzo, all is forgiven.
* Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman, How not to write a novel: 200 mistakes to avoid at all costs if you ever want to get published (2009):
There are many ways prospective authors routinely sabotage their own work. But why leave it to guesswork? Misstep by misstep, How Not to Write a Novel shows how you can ensure that your manuscript never rises above the level of unpublishable drivel; that your characters are unpleasant, dimensionless versions of yourself; that your plot is digressive, tedious and unconvincing; and that your style is reliant on mangled cliches and sesquipedalian malapropisms. Alternatively, you can use it to identify the most common mistakes, avoid them and actually write a book that works.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30862459@N05/3982097895
*Postscript: it has to be admitted, though, that there are some wonderful things in Women in Love, such as the night on the lake where the young man is drowned. Magnificent.