Tuesday, April 01, 2008
We are in the throngs of doing some house remodeling. In the process we removed the carpet from one of the bedrooms and discovered a lime green, bright yellow, and tan linoleum in a huge daisy print. I graciously offered this find to Paty for use in her cabin at a reduced price since the treasure was glued for life and had to be removed in a million little pieces. If this discovery could have been removed in one solid sheet the pristine covering would have created a unique take on the floor in her rugged cabin, and I could have garnered twice the price. Instead, I suggested she could apply the gems to the ceiling for an eye-popping mosaic conversation piece. I’m still a little hurt she rejected my clever idea and turned me down flat. My solution offered a remedy to reshape dated material into a timeless work of art.
The brilliant idea induced me to think about timeless in regard to writing. Have you ever read a book without checking the copyright first and quickly discovered within a few pages or chapters that the word choices and descriptions have dated the novel? I have found myself thrust into a seventies living room with avocado green carpet, harvest gold brocade couch and orange bean bag chairs. In another book characters from the sixties dashed across the pages in hip huggers and bellbottom pants with wide leather belts. Language choices, yea, far out, cool man, and totally radical slang also dates the material. These earmarks slap a time warp onto every page of a novel.
Personally, I love to read books written in a timeless frame. They leave the reader believing it’s written in the present day. They can slip between the pages of a book and never guess the copyright or time period from detailed descriptions of furnishings, clothing, cars, popular product trends, and sayings.
I’m not suggesting I don’t like historical, western, or regency books, to name a few. I love books set in a specific point in time. I’m talking about books that could fit into any decade with the removal of some word choices. Over detailed information can dress a book in a distinctive frock found only in a sliver of years.
If one can ignite the urge to purge dated material from their manuscripts, they can expect future generations to enjoy their books without the invasion of intrusive dated material adding layers of wrinkles to their stories. Hold dated descriptions at bay and lavish your attention and talents onto your unique characters, plots, turning points, black moments and resolutions. Let each page of your book don a suit of timeless fashion pressed to pristine freshness.
Do you want your books to show signs of age or do you hope they’ll be read decades later with their true birth date well hidden?