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Writing about Writing Rules vs Imagery

Writing about Imagery through the Written Word

I have been browsing through the writings of Nora Ephron, who wrote and directed movies like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally.

I am reading Crazy Salad right now, a hilarious look at a particular stage in the evolution of modern American life. Even after the passage of years, when a lot of the incidents Ephron describes have lost their relevance, the freshness of her incisive irony never fails to make me laugh.

But what I really, really love about the collection of essays is Ephron’s undeniable talent in conjuring up images through words strung together every which way. I like the way I can see in a motion picture of sorts in my head, the things she is writing about. The book is strewn with passages that call up memorable scenes:

It is September, just before school begins. I am eleven years old, about to enter the seventh grade, and Diana and I have not seen each other all summer….. I am walking down Walden Drive in my jeans and father’s shirt hanging out and my old red loafers with the socks falling into them and coming towards me is…..I take a deep breath…a young woman. Diana. Her hair is curled and she has a waist and hips and a bust and she is wearing a straight skirt, an article of clothing I have been repeatedly told I will be unable to wear until I have the hips to hold it up. My jaw drops, and suddenly I am crying, crying hysterically, can’t catch my breath sobbing. My best friend has betrayed me. She has gone ahead without me and done it. She has shaped up.

I love how the description brings up images for me. Ephron has two long, wandering sentences in the paragraph, one of which has four “and”s. She seems to have thrown writing rules to the winds. But who cares about the rules of grammar and writing when the imagery is strong?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

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