I agree with… Colm Tóibín

Colm Toibin “I didn’t write a great deal that I erased but I did think of a great deal that I put aside because everything had to, in some way or other, have a drama in it. I began to trust [the novel], so I felt that if I put enough detail in this, especially in the opening chapters, that I will build up a relationship between her and the reader where the reader will become interested in even the smallest thing that happens to her, or that she remembers.”
Colm Tóibín, talking about the writing of ‘Nora Webster’, in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine [August 1, 2014]

Colm Tóibín

[photo: colmtoibin.com]

I found this a fascinating comment on the use of detail to connect with the reader. A popular style for a long time – really since Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love with its electrifying opening scene with the balloon – has been to grab the reader from page one and then fill in the context afterwards. With his concentration on detail, Tóibín suggests another way: trusting the reader to stick with it, slowly constructing the character and the context for her life, making her real in the reader’s imagination. It works only in a slower-paced more contemplative book.

In 2000, Tóibín wrote the first chapters to two different novels. The Master was published in 2004, Nora Webster was not published until October 2014. It took him a while to get the detail right, but it was worth the wait.

For Colm Tóibín’s website, click here
Read my reviews of Nora Webster , Brooklyn and House of Names.


If you agree with Colm Tóibín, perhaps you will agree with:-
Karen Maitlanddo your research, then set it aside
James McAvoy good writing has to come first
Freya Northsocial media is a great way to connect with readers

‘Nora Webster’ by Colm Tóibín [UK: Penguin]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Thinking & deleting, before writing: #author Colm Tóibín http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1f1 via @SandraDanby #amwriting