They say that to become a good writer, you must first be a good reader. By which it is meant that you must read. Anything and everything.
Of late, my reading has been sketchy, mostly being just what I find on the internet. I try not to buy many books at the moment for the very simple reason that my current home has not nearly enough space.
Happily, my last week at home home has meant that I’ve been surrounded by the library I collected as a teenager. I have had the time and comfort to curl up and reread the stories I’ve loved for years.
I knew someone once who couldn’t see the point of rereading books. Once you’ve read it, you know how it ends. No surprises, so what’s the point?
I find rereading books I’ve enjoyed to be like catching up with an old friend. Reminiscing about things we’ve enjoyed, learning new details. My reading this week has mostly been Georgette Heyers, her detective novels as well as some romances. It’s been interesting comparing her approach to each.
The romances are filled with sartorial details, the mysteries not so much. I was particularly looking out for this because apparently someone somewhere, according to my mother, once said that the important difference between Heyer and Jane Austen, despite them writing about the same period, is that Austen was considerably less interested in the clothing choices of her characters. The reason for this is that Austen was writing about her own period. Her readers would know about the clothes and fashions. Heyer, on the other hand, was writing at least a century later and needed to help her readers set the story. I need to reread Austen to check this theory.
However, having compared Heyer’s romances to her contemporary mysteries, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this was found to be true. She, and the readers, would know about the pre- and post-WWII fashions. Detailed descriptions unnecessary.
It’s made me think about my own writing, about my fantasy world, and the necessity of detailed descriptions. I’m not sure quite what I’ve decided about it just yet.
What do you think? Do you like knowing the details of clothes, down to the last trailing thread? Or do you skip them because honestly once you’ve read one description of a dress you’ve read them all?