Monday, March 27, 2017

Authorial Flagging

After a sufficient introduction to the joys of reading, most readers will dabble outside the range of contemporary authors, sampling works from past centuries. In the process, they become aware of writers who produce a steady ensemble of eccentric characters, whose foibles span the spectrum of outrageous behavior.

Authors from the past,such as Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Marianne Evans (writing as George Eliot) and Charlotte Bronte have been particularly adept at providing us with memorable characters. More contemporary authors, say Joseph Heller, Philip Roth, Elmore Leonard,and Nadine Gordimer, win our hearts and minds because of the way they've participated in the evolution of character from mere description into evocations of behavior through the filter of their individual actions.

Even so, these authors project a sense of personality and style that filters through the open spaces within their narratives. But when an author oversteps the boundaries of twenty-first century storytelling conventions, we become aware of their desperate need to burst upon a particular scene, arms waving, to flag down out attention, whereupon they undertake to explain to us the things we readers should be working out for ourselves.

Hence authorial flagging, the attempt of a writer to explain the story to us rather than being content to let the story tell itself.

Don't tell the reader what the reader may already know.

Don't do the reader's work for him or her, which will only cause you in the long run to complain that readers are too lazy to get your intentions and implications.

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