As we approach the beginning of this project I have to say it’s been difficult to zero in on one idea. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between the distinction between creative fiction and creative non-fiction. I don’t think I could get any broader than that. However I do know what I like and how I want to come across in my writing so at least there’s that.
Mindy Kaling’s witty and heartfelt book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?,” is a form of writing that I would really like to emulate in my own pieces of writing. I thoroughly enjoyed the lightheartedness with which she shared everything from embarrassing stories of her childhood to her interactions with men and her hatred for dieting. You can read the excerpt that I will be drawing from here.
Right off the bat the title of the chapter, “Non-Traumatic Things That Have Made Me Cry,” is grabbing and makes me wonder what sorts of non-traumatic events are worthy of Mindy Kaling’s tears. Throughout her book she uses hooks like these to keep the reader engaged and provoke their curiosity. The stories she then pursues to tell are written in a way that is relatable to the reader. When she retells her experience of being stood up by Evan Lieberman (a fake name kindly given by Kaling considering the circumstances) she shares details that immediately spark recognition with readers.
“I had kept all my best friends updated about my upcoming date in a long and exhaustively detailed e-mail chain with the subject heading: ‘HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS, MAY NOT TURN INTO A CRAZY JANE EYRE ATTIC LADY AFTER ALL.'”
I think all of us can remember a time when we were excited about a new crush and had the pre-date butterflies. I can remember trying on numerous outfit combinations before hanging out with a guy and having my friends weigh in. We all know it’s ridiculous and yet we care too much anyways! Kaling captures the hilarity of the situation and makes us feel a connection to her. It’s impossible to read her reflections and not think, “Yes! That’s happened to me too!” Kaling’s biggest asset in her writing is her ability to connect to her audience. This in addition to her comedic and easy going tone are things I want to mimic in my own writing.
Another piece of writing I’d like to reflect on (one of my favorites ) is “Outlander,” by Diana Gabaldon. This incredibly well written book is the first in a series of historical multi-genre novels. It tells the tale of WWII nurse Claire Randall who is sent back in time to 18th century Scotland and tries to survive the dangers and adventures alongside hunky clansman Jamie Fraser. While I don’t plan on writing a novel for this project, I greatly admire Gabaldon’s prose and attention to detail.
From this sentence alone I feel like I am right there next to Claire staring into the fire. Gabaldon’s use of descriptive language allows readers to envision themselves as part of the adventure throughout the book, which is why it’s such an exciting read!
Furthermore her use of dialogue is incredible and so accurate that I can’t believe she isn’t a Scotland native.
Using words like “ye” and combing phrases like “with me” to “we’me” makes it easier for readers like myself to hear the Scottish accent as I read. I don’t have to remind myself where the book is taking place, because the language is so accurate of the time and place. This is a key component to any novel (especially historical-fiction) and Gabaldon executes it flawlessly.
She also accomplishes the melding of the historical, sci-fi, and romance genres, without seeming like there’s too much going on. I admire the multi-genre approach, because I personally find that most of my ideas wind up being multi-faceted. It’s like I can’t just write a research paper or a love story or a murder mystery. I want there to be lots and lots of layers.
I have found myself returning to this book whenever I go home to try and capture just exactly what it is that makes me keep coming back for more. Gabaldon’s detailed writing and layered themes are two factors that never seem to let me down.