Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How to know when you're talking down to your readers, and what to do about it

"Don't talk down to your audience."

I've seen this advice in many, many books about writing fiction, but I haven't been able to find much about how to diagnose when you're doing it, or how to stop.

The issue came up in my writer's group. I suggested that a manuscript was "talking down" to the reader, and the rest of the room agreed, but we couldn't quite define the qualities that gave us that impression. And the writer understandably wanted to know what she was doing wrong.

There are a few reasons why a writer might unconsciously talk down to her audience:

Monday, April 02, 2012

movies of the week

You know how sometimes you know a movie is going to be bad but you have to watch it anyway just to get it out of your system? I downed three of those in the last 24 hours.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth)--Benedict Cummerbranch and Firth were the only two who didn't seem to be sleepwalking in this somnambulant spy thriller. Ultra-stylish, limping along on flashbacks, mistakes obfuscation for suspense.

Anonymous--Vanessa Redgrave and Jolie Richardson play Queen Elizabeth I as a childish, neurotic cougar. Bunch of other men conspire around her to no effect. And there's some slop about the power of words and the glory of artistic expression.

A Dangerous Method--less melodramatic than the trailer would have you believe, which is all to the good, but the restraint of the writing, acting, and directing leaves me with a tepid feeling of frustration--not exactly the afterglow you want from a movie in which at least three main characters advocate freedom of thought and sexuality as vehicles to mental health.

I feel so repressed right now I may have to flush my brain with some Michael Bay to recover balance.

goat cheese vinaigrette vegetable dip

This is a tangy, savory dip I made up. It's especially suited to raw vegetables.

1/2 brick of cream cheese,
1 small package (3 oz) goat cheese
2 Tbs mayo
juice 1/2 lemon
salt & pepper
1-2 tsps Penzey's French Vinagrette dressing mix*
extra pinch of both rosemary and thyme (optional--I like the piney flavor of the rosemary with the lemon)
dash cayenne

Allow cheeses to reach room temp. Blend together cheeses and mayo. Add salt, pepper and herbs. Add lemon juice and stir well. Keep cool.

*this vinagrette mix includes salt, pepper, sugar, rosemary, thyme, garlic, onion, scallions. Using the real thing fresh would probably be even better!