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Exposition

Exposition

I’ve been thinking about exposition, prehistory, that part of the story that comes before the story actually opens and how writers handle it. If you read stuff that has to do with story structure, you find that most writers who describe exposition have it coming at the beginning of the story, a kind of pre-chapter if you will. But mystery writers don’t usually do that, and here’s why: mysteries open, usually, with some extreme event, a murder, an accident, something to catch a reader’s interest. At least that’s what I’ve been told by people who should know, like Penguin editors. Maybe …

To Be or Not To Be

To Be or Not To Be

We use the verb “to be” a lot mostly because it’s easier than looking around for a verb that’s more accurate. But “to be” is a passive verb; it doesn’t do anything but join parts of a sentence together. Take this sentence: “The road was wet and shiny.” It provides information, sure, but it’s a bit bland. If we use an active verb rather than “was”, we get something more satisfying. “The wet road glistened in the pools of light thrown down by the occasional street light.” I added a bit of detail and using “glistened” rather than “was” seems to …

Write What You Know

Posted on 5 min read 100 views

I’ve heard this idea expressed by numerous people, critics and writers especially, and it makes sense. However, to understand what it means to “write what you know,” I have to look at my experiences and then examine what I write to see what the connection really is. And that brings up some interesting insights and viewpoints on writing. What strikes me immediately when I look at my fiction and the places I’ve been that get into my stories is the way the places get transformed. They’re not used literally at all; that is, they’re not used as they are. The sense …

Indifference: Does Life Have Meaning?

Indifference: Does Life Have Meaning?

An existential philosopher once wrote about the benign indifference of the universe, i.e. the meaning in life, and the dread that idea caused in most people, the existentialist excepted, of course.  Richard Dawkins has taken that one step further suggesting that if the universe is not only indifferent but also has no purpose, then human life must be equally meaningless and without purpose. That doesn’t preclude, I don’t think, the obvious drive in life to become, to realize potential. We see that every spring in renewal. We see it in the drive in everything to reach full potential. Perhaps that isn’t …

Cyclic Theory

Cyclic Theory

Every Heard of Cyclic Theory? When I was teaching classes in literary structure, one of the things I looked at was the idea that seasonal and solar flux impacted literature whether writers intended it to or not.  If one stood back a little from the narrative, one could sense the structure of images on which the narrative depended. Each of the seasons, then, provided a kind of objective correlative for abstractions like the feelings and inner nature of characters. At its simplest, villains were always dark, heroes always blue-eyed and blond. At its most complex, the story produced a rain of …