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melly

This was one of the best pieces I've read on the subject of balancing dialogue and descritions. It makes sense to follow the POV character and what it notices.
But what if there isn't a POV character?
Probably still follow what's important for the protagonist/main character in the scene?

E.L. Green

K.C. Constantine never let anything get in the way of his dialogue. Sometimes a whole chapter was almost nothing but dialogue. His point was that he'd rather leave a few things to the reader's imagination than clutter his dialogue unnecessarily. Thus in Slow Tomatoes he describes an older woman's home as cluttered in the way homes get when a woman passes a certain age, with too many things accumulated over a lifetime and the messy look a house gets when dusting becomes a test of uncertain eyesight and things that are dropped stay dropped because bending over to get them is too much a chore... then he drops into the conversation, leaving the rest to the reader. My imagination immediately filled in any of a number of elderly relatives' living rooms and went on.

That said, in my genre I need to work on my exposition. If you read the classics of hardboiled/noir crime fiction e.g. Raymond Chandler the setting is almost as much a character as his gumshoe Phillip Marlowe. A police procedural like K.C. wrote has different requirements, though Constantine and Chandler have some similarities in their use of the overall genre of crime fiction to make social commentary (probably what attracted me to the field, even though I mostly read science fiction).

Oh, regarding a POV character: a "universal" narrator is hard to pull off well, and switching POV within a scene can be confusing. Larry McMurtrey is a freakin' genius, but there's still scenes in Lonesome Dove that make me wince, because he switches POV sometimes several times within the same paragraph. Unless that's the effect you want (let's face it, sometimes the author *wants* to confuse the reader -- think Bob Dylan's classic 60's songs), you're probably better off avoiding it.

And if you don't have POV down, go play with it some more. Read some books you like and note how they handle the problem of POV.

-E.L. Green

Mitch B.

I've been trained to write news pieces when I was a student. Most of the approaches that I've learned are those that tend to box the story (pyramid, inverted pyramid, and scattered). When I shifted to fiction writing, I was faced with a problem: since news writing is basically stating facts straight out, I had the tendency to leave out some details that readers do not usually need in a news piece like emotions, background, weather, ambience, etc. I tried to fix that by starting to elaborate on those mentioned details. But like Percy, I got stuck with the question of 'how much should I reveal?' Your entry and the entry's comments proved to be very useful in enlightening me. Now I have a very simple question. I know that using the parenthesis is not that adviseable as it breaks the flow of thought (which I sometimes tend to do--much like this), but there must be some ways that a parenthesis could be used to prove a point. What do you suppose are the best ways to use the parenthesis in writing stories?

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