Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the art of seduction, part I

In workshop we talk a lot about delaying gratification as a way to heighten tension and keep the pages turning. The unresolved circumstance not only intrigues the reader, but, in a weird way, seduces the reader by extending the invitation of ownership.

This is where genre and literary fiction meet, I think. That crazy little thing called plot. Formulaic, received text does not do this, however. When you withhold information while tap-dancing and pointing in the other direction (which is what happens when writers rely on adjective-laden description and exposition), you do not engage the reader as much as lull him.

Good fiction does not lull, it engages. It creates and inspires and confounds. It demands that the reader sit in the driver’s seat of your story.

We sometimes use dialogue to pull this off. Dialogue that and presents and reroutes, but doesn’t result in immediate answers. Avoiding didactic resolution is key here. I want to go on, but, crap, I must now go off to work and leave this meditation mid-thought…

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