Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Romeo & Juliet"

I’ll return “Romeo and Juliet” to the public library (along with Shelley) later today. Shakespeare has quite a way with words, doesn’t he? People and places come alive without the use of a single description. His plays record only dialogue, and yet, I sit there reading, growing more and more attached to the characters. The plot draws me in, too. The guy knows what he is doing.

Prospective authors read here the following advice all the time – don’t spend paragraphs describing your character or sentence upon sentence setting up what your character is about to say. The characters should speak for themselves. Dialogue seems like an easy enough thing. We all speak, right?

His simplicity makes Shakespeare so great. Polonius says it best in “Hamlet” – “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Granted, Polonius rambles inestimably. I ramble, don’t I? Ah, but what blog doesn’t? Anyway, Shakespeare presents a simple enough tale within “Romeo and Juliet”, but with every subsequent glance, I always discover something new and profound. He never fails to extract from his characters the very basest of human frailties and truths. No wonder critics have written of his genius for four centuries.

I do find that reading Shakespeare has helped me focus my characters. If you’re writing a book, study Shakespeare’s characterizations. Do you agree that the simplistic manner in which Shakespeare presents his characters is his chief strength?

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