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Writing

Imbue physicality with meaning in stories

Bookmarked against character vapor by Brandon (sweater weather)

A literalness of physical representation that does not deepen or sharpen the reality of either character or story. These sorts of descriptions feel quite rote, dull, dead. They feel like a transcription of a visual event totally deprived of poetry or sense. There is this sense that we are being cinematic when we watch a character cross a room. Rather than cinematic, I think we ought to be more dramatic.

In fiction, when you just plop those physical acts into your story or your novel, you’re copying the surface but not the deep reality.

We are brought along with the narrator’s perceptive field into the story. They are experiential, not narrated. They unfold in quasi real time, a sure indicator of experiential writing rather than the summarized narration. The psychic distance is quite close. We feel as things happen. And the things that do happen feel significant.

The author writes of literary works but I’m thinking of the physicality of romance: that a good sex scene is not “insert tab a into slot b” but full of what action means to the characters. That action conveys conflict and cooperation, is a proxy for the state of their relationship. That the other’s actions push them to a response: do they let the other lead or fight for control, do they trust the other with their vulnerability, do they deny the act has meaning between them? How does coming together change them both?

Via.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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