16 December 2010

How art concepts apply to writing

Anne Wilson, Topographies, from Mouth to Mouth Mag
I remember piling into my intro art and design classes with other sleepy-eyed freshmen to learn how to draw, paint, and critique. We were taught how to see and to talk about a piece objectively, not just what we liked or disliked. We talked about craft and attention to detail. When it came to subjectivity, we were taught to point out what was or was not working, and why.

Laura Miller at Salon.com this week tells us Why we love bad writing, and one of her reasons is about flow:

Novels are praised for being a "fast read" and above all for having writing that "flows." "Flow" is an especially fascinating term because it's one that literary critics have never used, and it perfectly captures the way that clichéd prose can be gobbled up in chunks at a breakneck pace.

I'm interested in her attention to "flow" because it does get used in visual arts and design. It's how your eye moves, or how the line work or composition flows. To me, books that flow do not always equate cliche. As M. D. (Dom) Benoit asks, "Plot vs. quality. What a concept. Why not both?"

How does an art concept like flow apply to writing? There is something seamless and tight about prose that flows. It means something is working below the surface to grab a reader or viewer's attention and hold them tight.

So, what do you think, why not both
blog comments powered by Disqus