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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Elizabeth Bear on Balance

   
Author Topic: Elizabeth Bear on Balance
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Very useful insights in Elizabeth Bear's blog post recently.

This topic comes up frequently, and I thought y'all might like to see a published author's take on it.

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extrinsic
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Exquisite commentary. Accessibility and complexity as literary values. Balance too, implied as a literary value. Write to an audience of one. Elizabeth Bear's take on those and show and tell or demonstrate and narrate accords comfortably with mine.

One bit of advice I might add, instead of narrating exposition, try setup and jump transitions. If they're going to a funeral and how they get there isn't emotionally and dramatically significant, write a setup and transition in other writing modes that leads readers there without writing getting there.

If an emotionally and dramatically significant scene getting to the funeral, write it out, or as I've recently come to realize and Ms. Bear remarks upon in so many words, spell it out. "I have very little use for obscurity for its own sake–but of course, too much hand-holding will frustrate readers as much as too little."

If there's a shortcoming for struggling writers' writing, not spelling out dramatic scenes is a common one. I suppose out of fear of excessive exposition blocks, shorthand and shortcuts crop up. Emotional meaning and accessibility, "Emotional beats," flesh out spelled-out exposition. Those and developing antagonism- and tension-filled scenes.

If a drive to a funeral is intended to be emotionally meaningful and accessible, spell it out. Don't take shortcuts or leave the scene written in the shorthand of draft writing. Rework the scene until it sings or cut it out and jump transition around it.

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