H.G. Wells and the 21st Century


In my experiment of bringing back regular reading, I started H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, which I found in an awesome electronic collection of 25 of his novels for just $1.99. (Here it is if you’re interested: The Collected Novels of H.G. Wells: 25 Books in One Volume (Unexpurgated Edition) (Halcyon Classics)).

Think about that. 25 novels and no broken wrists from trying to hold the volume. My love affair with ebooks continues. And I’d already purchased it, was out somewhere and thought, “I’d like to be reading,” and then I was. It’s magical.

Anyway, I’d always wanted to read it, but it was mentioned in the context of “Orphan Black,” and I figured now was as good a time as any. What struck me in the little bit I’ve read so far is, like Dickens, even with the stiff language, his writing immediately pulls you in.

Which got me thinking. Word choice is important, of course, because you cannot convey what you mean without the right parts. But construction can override the words themselves, making the formal Victorian language propel you forward.

Poor construction can also stop you dead while reading.

It’s not only the cement and the mortar and the trowel when you’re writing. It’s the scaffolding. And if the scaffolding collapses, so does the story.

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