One of my big writing fears is twaddle. Home Education guru Charlotte Mason wrote and spoke extensively against "twaddle": writing that does not touch the soul, that is there for just entertainment purposes, that does not call upon the mind. In TV land, Hannah Montana would be twaddle, MASH probably would not. In the art world, Precious Moments would be twaddle, but Renoir would not. Nancy Drew is borderline; Goosebumps would be twaddle. Little Women would not. When Charlotte Mason discusses twaddle, it is usually as an antidote to sterile textbooks "written" by committee that digest the facts for the learner. The opposite of twaddle would be Living Books.

So what if I write this novel for NaNoWriMo, and it is…gasp…twaddle?

If writing is my calling from God, I don’t want to produce twaddle. I want to produce something like the movie Fireproof. It may not be perfectly produced (though it’s not bad in that regard), but it is touching people’s lives. People leave the theater talking about the movie. Weeks later they’re saying, "It’s like in that movie Fireproof…"

A good book, a Living Book, should be like that.

The problem is, sometimes you just need some silliness in life. Some twaddle. I don’t like to read the Bible before bedtime, for example, because it gets me to thinking, and before long I’m getting up to find a book to look something up. Same with a classic book. It takes some brain power to work your way through a classic, and then my brain is fired up, and I never get to sleep. So, no, I don’t think you always have to be reading a classic to be reading something worthwhile. Besides, something that is old is not necessarily good, and something new is not necessarily bad. There are some really worthwhile modern Christian authors out there. And some that are twaddle; I leave their books wishing I hadn’t spent the time.

So what qualities make a book twaddle?  (My personal list)

*Flat characters who do not grow throughout the novel–does Nancy Drew grow throughout her books, or even the whole series? I might have to rethink her as borderline
 
*Predictable plot

*Aliens from outer space (Sorry, Star Trek lovers–that’s probably more of a personal preference)

*Story driven by plot only (no character growth)

*Navel-contemplating characters (no plot)

*Moralizing

I once listened to a tape once called "Christian vs. Secular Fiction." It talks about three major areas of fiction writing: Plot, Character, and Message. Best-Selling fiction tends to focus on Plot, with Character second and Message third. Literary fiction leans toward Character, with Message second and Plot third. Christian fiction tends to focus on Message first, Plot second, and Character third.

When I look at my personal list of twaddle qualities, and think of Plot, Character, and Message, it seems like I’m stumbling onto something here. A Living Book does have a message (whether moral or academic), but more noticeably, it has a balance of Plot and Character. I think even a science book could accomplish this! Certainly a history book.

Please comment with your personal list about what make a book twaddle, or with the name of your secret twaddle pleasure. Mine would have to be Biggest Loser on tv. At least they are struggling for a worthwhile goal!

Blessings!

Novel Progress: Two character studies almost done, two to go. Need a subplot, and need names still.

FLYte Plan Stars: None yet. Taking off today from workout, so I didn’t get going like I should’ve. Tomorrow we’ll buy a new tv (I know, I know, the tv guy was gonna fix it. The part cost more than just going out to buy a tv), and I’ll be able to do my workout video as planned.

Advertisements