Saturday, April 29, 2006


A term often used.
A good writer writes with passion.
Sometimes I wonder what the hell it means.

A writer bogged down trying to decide if s/he has tweaked a minor character enough to justify its placement and existence, if this or that theme is two-by-foured, if there's not enough back story - or too much, if a plot element is too gory, too slight, unbelievable, bland, missing, introduced in the wrong place ( hello, aliens)...all those mechanical concerns, all those frantic kicking feet under the surface, have damn all to do with passion.

Lots of sweat and lip flipping though.
Cliched? Stereotyped? Pedestrian?
And the red ink flows like rivers.

Most writers, we assume, have a passion to write the best book they can.
That's intent, genesis, pride, responsibility, the slavery of compulsion, but an urge, a hope not always translated into the end result of words that sear, explode, commute on a page.

Nor can it mean simply the subject, the exercise of passionate, trumpeted avowal or defense of an idea, an ideal, a person, a place.
Or every book of gentle, humorous, foibled observations and delicate descriptions would be edged with rime and limp with frost in an agent's recycle bin.

When some prose is described as passionate by a reviewer, one can find instead clever and judicious use of a dictionary of antonyms and synonyms, a decidious device involving gut-words. Passion by verb or noun or adjective. Skill.
Sometimes it works - like makeup over birthmarks and acne.
Sometimes one reads and thinks "what beautiful prose" and wonder why it leaves one cold and unmoved.

Vehemence, feeling, ardour, emotion, fervour, excitement, rapture, rage, indignation, lust, desire, animation, eagerness, warmth, keeness.

Perhaps it comes down to truth and belief - and the ability to transmute that sense of truth and belief into words and into the mind of the reader.
Sounds like an analogy of the Trinity I heard once.
Your passion must move the reader.

How would you define writing with passion?


For The Trees said...

For me, Passion is the need to get the ideas into words, and into pixels. It's the burning desire to tell stories that drives me.

The words themselves, the editing and rewrites and rewrites and rewrites are all part of the craft. If the passion's there, it'll still be there after all the manipulations.

Or so **I** think.

Bernita said...

We all hope you are correct, Forrest.
We agree on the cause.
I'm wondering how the effect is defined.

Erik Ivan James said...

To me, the "effect" is that the reader "desires" to finish the book, not; is "determined" to finish the book.

Bernita said...

How about a determined desire, Erik? A lust?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Passion = consuming desire!

Erik Ivan James said...

We could "stick 'em" in.

Bernita said...

A consuming, determined desire in the reader to finish the book.
We all hope for that.

But what IS passionate writing?
Is it undefinable except by example?

James Goodman said...

To me passion is a driving force to unveil the lives/deaths/hardships of my characters. If I leave them in limbo too long, they might whither up and die, but might I.

Dennie McDonald said...

To me passion is the fact that I cannot NOT write - I have to write. I have to create. No matter what I do with the piece whether I share or privately tuck it away and pat myself on the back. I have always written - will always write no matter what - that, to me is passion.

Bernita said...

Two passionate writers.

ali said...

I agree with Dennie. Passion's about having to write. It's also about loving the story and characters, so much that I just want to spend all my time talking about them.

And you need passion to do all the boring bits, like checking through 200 pages for typos. I do, anyway.

Bernita said...

A couple of very good points, Ali.
I especially like"loving the characters."

Robyn said...

*steps up to the microphone*


Hell if I know.

Lisa Hunter said...

I remember reading an interview with the writers for the film "In the Bedroom." The journalist noted that they "had made this film as intensely as if their lives depended on it." And the writers said, "Yes, exactly."

For The Trees said...

I agree with Dennie. I HAVE TO write. It's my passion. Witness my blog, for which I don't get paid - except for accolades from other writers.

Then Lisa said, "The journalist noted that they "had made this film as intensely as if their lives depended on it." And the writers said, "Yes, exactly."

Sure rings true to me. My life depends on writing. I need that outlet, that channel for my heart and mind to express themselves.

For The Trees said...

but the EFFECT of writing passionately is to rivet the reader to the chair, to lock down the exits and make them sit still even though the place is on fire.

Passion, in writing, is the force that makes someone READ instead of watching TV or listening to their iPod. Or a million other things - like feeding the kids or boinking the spouse.

There's not enough writing with that kind of passion. For most of us, it takes a lifetime to get that good, and THEN we gotta have the passion to write it like that, even when we're old.

Bernita said...

With you, Robyn.

What a terrific quote, Lisa!Thank you.

Ah, Forrest you get the point I was so clumsy about. We know cause. We know the desired effect - to rivet the reader so they MUST know the ending.
What is hardest to define is what makes that effect.

S. W. Vaughn said...

This post is passionate about passion. :-)

To me, the effect of passion is that when I write, and it is good, it seems as if I am the chronicler of deeds rather than the creator. These people live, somewhere in this sprawling thing we call a universe, and I am capturing their lives and emotions and feelings.

And then they won't...shut...UP!!!


Bernita said...

Yep! Found that too!
They decline to be puppets!