Lauren Chater talks The Craft of Writing

Lauren Chater talks The Craft of Writing

When Lauren Chater compared using similes and metaphors to garnishing a dish it seemed fitting. Her non-fiction book Well Read Cookies combined her two loves of baking and literature.

Perhaps she is onto something. According to writing coach John Warner, writers and chefs have a lot in common. Both crafts are about balancing the ingredients.

Lauren is a young Australian writer who focuses on women’s stories. Her debut novel, The Lace Weaver was published in April 2018 and she is in the final stages of editing her second novel, Gulliver’s wife. Based on the story of Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver’s Wifeexplores the life of his wife.

“It’s the story of Gulliver’s Travels but told from the perspective of his long-suffering spouse, Mary. She doesn’t get much screen time in the original novel so I’ve given Mary her own voice and life outside of Gulliver. It’s a look at the marginalised women men leave behind when they go off and have adventures. Women’s lives are equally as interesting,”Lauren explains.

Lauren gives much of the credit for her writing to the sheer number of books she read in childhood.

“I’ve spent years and years reading other books and that’s where that grounding language comes from. I also used to listen to audio books when I was a child, many classics and modern classics and so that understanding of language just becomes second nature when you’ve read a lot in your life,”says Lauren.

Working in a library meant that Lauren was constantly surrounded by the words of her most admired authors including Margaret Atwood, Emma Donoghue and Shona Patel. She recalls wandering between the stacks and imagining where her future book would be shelved.

Lauren explains what this ‘grounding language’ does for her writing.

“I don’t think I consciously use language. It just kind of flows. When you’re in a really great flow, when you’re into the scene and imagining it in your head, it’s more like channeling. You’re just being a conduit for the words and that’s a great feeling when that happens,” she says.

Lauren describes her role as a writer as simply being a storyteller. It is not until the story is told and the final stages of drafting and editing are underway that Lauren really begins to consciously apply techniques to her writing.

She laughed as she described the painstaking process of editing in the weeks before her final draft of Gulliver’s Wifeis due for publishing, “I will read each sentence to myself aloud and I like to finish or end the sentence on an unusual word. Not strange words but just something that’s not cliché’. It’s like topping and tailing your sentence to make it more interesting because the readers get really tired reading clichéd phrases and words.”

Lauren emphasises that she only uses language techniques to propel the story and she is quick to add that there is no room for language for the sake of cleverness. If it doesn’t guide the story then get rid of it.

“Similes and metaphors…You can over use them,” she says, “this is not news but they should be used sparingly. They’re like a garnish on a dish and if they’re used too much it just makes the dish too sweet or too salty. But used sparingly they are like lightning and they can just illuminate a point or a situation. They’re really important but the most important thing is what the book is trying to say and the narrative line of the story.”



About the Author: