harnessing the energy of tonal contrast
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modulating volume in dialogue
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How do your narrator and your characters speak? What is their level of diction? In Thomas Pynchon's V., where ex-sailors hunt alligators in sewers…
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Mary Douglas's classic work of cultural anthropology Purity and Danger points out the relativism inherent in our concept of dirt: Soil on the forest…
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Sometimes we fiddle and fuss with our prose but neglect the larger gyres of story. Other times the big plot arcs drive the writing. What is the thing…
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Dichotomy is a superb engine of narrative tension. Take the scene in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca in which the narrator appears at a costume ball dressed…
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It’s been a beastly summer in a lot of the world, so I can’t help being drawn to thoughts of ice. In Frankenstein, the monster is impervious to extreme…
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At the beginning of WG Sebald's The Rings of Saturn, the protagonist sets off on a solitary walk in the county of Suffolk. He walks carefree for hours…
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With thanks to Emily Rubin, who was reminded, as we read Frankenstein aloud in The 24-Hour Room this week, of the three questions Anna Deavere Smith…
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The best characters make the worst mistakes and fail egregiously to do the things they ought. In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein's sins of commission…
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In Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel, there's a spurned love interest, the protagonist's childhood friend Louise, who gets fairly little airtime and…
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In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, as in so many horror stories and movies, the central horror is mostly kept out of sight. In Part I, Chapter V – the…
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