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The Quick and the Dead

Seasons greetings to you all.

How are you at discerning what is quick, and what is dead in your writing? I once wrote a fairly long article on the subject, which I came across in John Braine's book Writing a Novel, bought at a library sale way back in the 1980s. In the book, there is a whole chapter on the subject, and the description of quick versus dead comes not from Braine, but via a quote from DH Lawrence, who said:

“We have to choose between the quick and the dead. The quick is the God Flame, in everything. And the dead is dead. In this room where I write, there is a little table that is dead: it doesn’t even weakly exist. And there is a ridiculous little iron stove, which for some unknown reason is quick. And there is an iron wardrobe trunk, which for some more mysterious reason is quick. And there are several books, whose mere corpus is dead, utterly dead and non-existent. And there is a sleeping cat, very quick. And a glass lamp, alas, is dead."

In this case, quick is the archaic term for alive (as in quicksilver). Knowing what to include in my narrative, and what to ignore has become almost instinctive, although I can't put my finger on how it works. Sometimes, the imagery in a passage I've written feels absolutely right, and other times I feel improvement is needed.

Do you discern what is quick from what is dead in your writing
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