Thursday, August 26, 2010

You felt what?

Time and convention are often the rugs of storytelling, caught in midair by some novel or short story, as they are being yanked from under the concepts and guidelines of the dramatic past.

Because they are so basic, some truths tend to fall between the cracks as you scurry about in your investigations of the provenance and credentials of less obvious, more arcane verities.  It is as though you are drawn away from simple truths wearing sensible shoes by enticing minor ones clad in four-inch pumps.

No surprise that each time you need to remind yourself of one of the most basic truths of all, you come away with a sense of having at last recognized in some permanent way its import, then resolved to control it.  You even have specific approaches to support the control.

The basic truth in question is the recognition that storytelling is an evocative rather than descriptive enterprise.  In apercu, you don't describe how a character feels about a particular situation, you put the character into some form of dramatic action--action verbs rather than thought verbs--which conveys to the reader how the character felt at a particular time or indeed feels right now.  We should know from our own observation as opposed to being told a thing is so by the author, which is to say by you.

A serious culprit in boring dramatic prose is the piled-on depth of description of things, events, responses imputed to characters by a garrulous writer.  The reader who enjoys fiction is the reader who enjoys the work of experiencing the results of the thing the writer enjoys creating.

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