I've never been a read-your-manuscript-out-loud advocate, but today, I've done just that. I decided to see if it really works. It does. I've spotted clumsy sentences, bad transitions, holes, and a lot of repetition. I mean, how many times can a hero run his fingers through his hair before he goes bald? How many times can a heroine laugh before she starts to come across just a little deranged? Reading aloud has been a tremendous help so I take back every negative snarl.
I've also learned a little about myself. Mainly that I don't know as much as I think I do or maybe I've forgotten much of what I've learned over the years. I know that dialogue can show the reader a lot about a character's personality. I know that dialogue shows action instead of telling about it. I wouldn't have a problem writing a novel using all dialogue since that's what I like to write and read. What I don't understand is just how much narrative is too much narrative? And who made up this rule of too much or too little? I've seen books that have barely any dialogue. Those are the ones I put back on the shelf.
I can't help but think that writing is somewhat instinctive. Yes, we have to know structure and yeah, gotta know the rules before we're allowed to break 'em, but we each have our own style of dress, our own quirky sense of humor (or not), our own likes and dislikes. We each have our very own rhythm in the way we talk and walk, and all of that bleeds into our writing, creates our voice, our style. We should listen to that rhythm in our soul. Our instinct. Our intuition. That gut feeling. We need to listen to that basic deep-down beat and we'll know if we have too much narrative.
Sure there are people who have absolutely no rhythm, no beat at all in their talk, walk or soul. When we read their writing--published or unpublished, we recognize their loss.
As much as I dislike the word organic -- really I guess that's what it comes down to. How much narrative? That's up to me. I plan to listen to that rhythm in my head, and in my heart. And I might even label it passion.