August 31st, 2006

amd: blue poolside

learning to tantalize the reader when telling a story

One of things I'm trying to keep in mind as I write is that fiction needs to be a constant seduction. The writer needs to arouse expectations in the reader of what is about to happen, then playfully ignore that interest, shift into another plotline, and then finally deliver on those intitial expectations only when the reader has almost forgotten them. (And of course, whenever possible, you try to subvert those expectations.)

Little cliffhangers. Very small cliffs, but lots of them. All going on at once, but layered. My friend Rey (whose manuscript I'm currently re-reading) does it very well. And the writers of Veronica Mars (which the girl and I have been devouring on DVD) also excel at it.

But it's tough for me. My natural impulse is always to just let the story flow, uninterrupted, not manipulating the reader with these tricks, meeting any expectation almost as soon as I set it up. Even though I know, know, that it makes for better storytelling when you do play this game. Hopefully someday, this will become secondhand for me, but for the time being it's another thing I have to keep juggling around in my mind while trying to write.

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    The Essex Green - "Cardinal Points"
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