2016 Blog Tours Bonnier Guest Post Rory Dunlop
Blog Tour: What We Didn't Say - Guest Post by Rory Dunlop
Today's my stop on the Blog Tour for What We Didn't Say by Rory Dunlop, a darkly funny story of a marriage in crisis, perfect for readers who loved Us by David Nicholls and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett. Rory stops by to talk about writing commandments and then you can read my review:
- Make the reader laugh, especially at the start. This is personal taste, no doubt, but I will forgive a writer a lot if they can make me laugh. I read the whole of Moby Dick, persevering through all the long bits about the whaling industry etc., simply because the first chapter was funny. There are very few novels I like that don’t contain any humour.
- Make sure what you’ve written sounds good when read out. It’s much easier to notice bad writing (sentences that are too long, clumsy turns of phrase etc.) when you read aloud what you’ve written than when you’re just looking at a page or a screen.
- Avoid clichés. This commandment is itself probably a cliché but worth remembering nonetheless. There are many readers (including me) who will be put off a novel if there are clichés in the prose. It’s a sign that the writer hasn’t put much thought or care into each sentence. There are so many well-written novels out there, I tend to give up on novels that are lazily written. It’s very easy to use clichés without realising. You have to ensure your editing process is rigorous. The best guide as to what needs to be cut is George Orwell’s – “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”
- Cut out pleonasms. Again, I’m essentially repeating one of George Orwell’s six rules for writing but it’s remarkable how often sentences contain unnecessary words. That doesn’t matter in everyday life or, dare I say it, journalism, but the best novelists, like Jim Crace, never waste a word. If you can do that, it gives an intensity to your prose that’s very powerful. (For example, Jim would never say ‘very powerful’ as ‘very’ adds so little to powerful).
- Write what you like to read. There’s no point in doing it otherwise. Well, I suppose if you were a best-seller there might be, but for most novelists, it’s a labour of love. It’s difficult to know what the outside world wants but you can at least know what you like about novels. Chances are, if you write something you like, it will appeal to others. So, don’t write a thriller if what you really like are novels about relationships. Your heart won’t be in it and, unless you’re very skilful, it won’t come off.
Review: What We Didn't Say is quite an interesting and original read. I found the concept fascinating. Basically, Jack and Laura has been separated for two years and Jack has been writing a diary recording everything that led to this separation and what happened to him in the last two years. After meeting Laura again he sends it to her and she sends it back with her own comments and remarks. This made for a really fun read as Laura's sarcastic comments were hilarious but also to the point.
Thanks to this narrative, we get to know both characters quite well and soon realise they are far from perfect. They both have made many mistakes and sometimes I wasn't even sure if they were really telling everything as it happened... but you couldn't but care for them and wish the best for them. Jack drove me a bit crazy, he always thought the worst, and also, why didn't they just talk to each other?And I think the story dragged a bit too much in some chapters as I felt like we were stuck, not really moving forward with the story (I guess it reflected the situation the characters were in but it was a bit frustating). I have to admit though that the ending surprised me and fitted really well with the story.
All in all What We Didn't Say might not be the most entertaining story you'll ever read but I found it really interesting and sharp. A great insight to a failing marriage that will remind you of the importance of honesty and trust.
I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
About the author
Rory Dunlop studied Classics at Oxford and worked as a teacher and journalist before being called to the Bar. He spent a year in Strasbourg, writing judgments for the European Court of Human Rights, failing to learn French and falling in love with Lika. They now have two daughters and live in London. He's written a text book on immigration law and several book reviews for the Spectator and, very occasionally, people read his tweets.
About the book
Title: What We Didn't Say
Author: Rory Dunlop
Published: June 30th 2016 by Bonnier Zafre
Jack writes to Laura, desperate to put across his side of the story.
Wryly sarcastic and intensely well-observed, What We Didn't Say is about that gap between words and feelings where relationships live - and die.
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