Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sellar on Creative writing

Gord Sellar has written a post which seems to focus on deliberately filling each scene or paragraph with content. Yes, a scene can advance the plot, but can also offer backstory and character development. There are dangers, he says, of making every glance, move or fumble meaningful, but people accept that fiction isn't reality.

Effective writing, as I’ve told my Creative Writing students, often means creating a kind of webwork of connections between as many elements as possible within a story. I’ve mentioned this before, how it is something I probably first encountered in an explicit sense when Nalo Hopkinson showed us (at Clarion West back in 2006) a neat technique one can use to thicken the broth of connections in a text. If I remember right, she wrote a list of characters, and a list of scenes (or themes? it’s fuzzy in my memory), and then worked out how each character (or theme) connected to each scene. If two characters meet by chance, its one thing, but what if they were connected through something else, like a college they’re both attending, or a workplace at which they both applied but were turned down?

There probably is a potential for overkill, if things are so hyperconnected that a text becomes overrun with the linkages. The line is hard to draw, though.

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