Yesterday, Paul and I went for a guided tour of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses. It’s on Jewett Parkway in Buffalo and was originally designed and built by Wright for the Darwin Martin family. The docent, forget his first name Simeone, was excellent and included in the tour a video and brief history of Darwin Martin, who himself was a most remarkable man.
But, as we were guided through the first floor of the house, the pergola, and the carriage house (our limit because we only purchased the one-hour tour), Simeone regaled us with explanations of Wright’s philosophy in designing structures. The finished product is one breath-taking example after another.
To say that the house has character is an understatement. It certainly has depthof character. Closer. Wright’s use of light, space, precious woods, cut and stained glass, color, and innovation is brilliant. The outdoors and Nature are as much parts of his design as are utility and geometry. He didn’t miss a single opportunity to delight the viewer and please his customer. Although he did run over budget—as in three times over—and I’m sure that did not please the customer!
That house is on 18 acres of property, if I remember correctly, and includes another house (for Martin’s sister’s family) and a beautiful house built especially for the gardener and his family. These buildings, too, enjoy Wright’s design genius.
But, once I recovered from the awe of it all, I thought how he had used all the elements we should incorporate when we write a novel. We should use Nature, light and color for our settings. We should use nuances and subtlety in developing our characters. We should use the intricacies of art, the threat of shadows, the awkwardness of angles, the sexuality of curves as we weave our characters through the plot, through their universe and that of our novel.
And, like Wright, we should be true to our philosophy, the philosophy inherent in the particular novel on which we’re working. Just as Wright was insistent that every minute detail of his design was executed perfectly, we should demand that our grammar and punctuation are flawless, our characters are developed thoroughly, our scenes are descriptive, electric, and include conflict, the themes running through the story are consistent with the philosophy and, of course, there is a satisfying conclusion.
Then, and only then, the only thing left is the reader’s enjoyment. And for us to say, Good job. Done well.