November 8, 2011

Conveying Necessary Information

Posted in Fiction Writing tagged , , at 10:12 am by Rebecca Hein

Cellists learn to move from one note to the next without disrupting the flow of rhythm and melody. We want the audience to notice the music, not the technique that brings music alive.

A good story is the same. Moved forward with certain techniques, it captures our attention and we don’t notice all the devices the author uses to convey information. For example, early in The Forgotten Door, a young adult novel by Alexander Key, Mary Bean is talking to her husband, Thomas, about two minor characters. She tells him, “They’re related, you know.”

The setting makes it obvious that Thomas would already know this; therefore Mary wouldn’t need to say it. Yet we take in the information without realizing that this comment is implausible.

Key has already created enough suspense in his plot, as well as sympathy with Jon, the protagonist, that we’re wrapped up in the story. Thus a simple, artificial device works because the “music” of this tale is louder than its technique.

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