Double Duty

by Intermittent Rain ~ July 9th, 2016. Filed under: Thoughts about Writing.


* Modified September 3rd, 2016 *

I’ve been working and thinking a lot about various things related to writing.

One is layering.

long exposure 38s f/11 - Bulb Mode

By layering I mean multiple levels of meaning or connection so that there is more than one thread connecting every phrase to the plot, the setting, the personalities, or the themes. In other words, why describe the light as “clear and bright” when you can say “cutting through the darkness like a knife” if the threat of a knife and cutting adds to the mood or the tension (and the cliche isn’t too painful), or “illuminated the dust hanging from long forgotten spider webs” if one of your themes is memory or time.

Or, as a writer you know you need to mix bits of setting or description of actions with your dialog, so rather than have the waiter ask about refills, have a baby in the next booth start to cry because one of your characters has a problem with her repressed childhood memories.

This is what I mean by double duty. It could be even triple duty; a beat to let the dialog settle in the reader’s mind, a description to add strength to the setting, while also a metaphor for one of the themes of your story. Or any other sort of multiple purpose use.

What these multiple layers do is weave a denser tapestry so the fabric of your story is supported in numerous ways. Not all of this hard work will be obvious to the reader but subconsciously they will get the feeling that yes, this characteristic of this person is clear to me because of this, this and this, but there will be these other subtle supporting connections that they cannot list unless they spend the time with your story like you did writing it.

 

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