Writing with Subtlety

I love when I’m reading a story and the author deftly touches on one of those minor, everyday human experiences that I’ve felt but never seen expressed before. I’m especially impressed when the subject matter is so lightly felt in real life that I’ve barely registered it in the past, yet as soon as I read their description, I think, Yeah! I know just what they mean!

There are moments each day when something like that – an insight, a self-conscious reaction, or an observation of a universal truth – gently nudges me and I’m eager to record it somehow, yet I can’t because I’m driving or showering or in the middle of a conversation. But even if I can recall it later, it’s still so difficult to translate to the page in the delicate manner it requires. Sometimes I’m lucky and it happens while I’m writing, jumping to the forefront of my consciousness unprovoked. That’s what I hope for each time I sit down to invent a scene or even improve an existing one and feel a little let down when it doesn’t happen, like I didn’t quite do my job as a writer.

When I do find such passages in a story I’m reading, I sometimes interrupt my reading to type them up. It helps my own writing, but it also gives me the satisfaction of savoring something worthwhile. I think I’ll take a few minutes now to do that with the book I read the other day, Anything Could Happen by Will Walton. Impressively, the author accomplished this with regularity. It made the story seem more honest and the main character easier to relate to.