Hi, Joyce. Hope your week has been productive.
If the lesson for week #2 was specificity in detail, week # 3 is about light touch. Because dirty realism is tough stuff–we’re constantly writing and asking our readers to look at disturbing characters, action and scenes–a certain danger can develop more quickly than with other styles. That danger is…boredom. For example, if we see twenty scenes in a row in which one character kills other characters with gunshots to their heads, though that’s gruesome, it will still become repetitive and monotone.
Light touch, at least in this context, means where can you leave some things to the imagination of the reader. A prime example of this technique comes from Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian. I highly recommend reading it, though it would probably not be considered dirty realism. The novel is chapter after chapter of brutality and violence and McCarthy does not turn the camera away. Except. Without ruining the novel if you haven’t read it, he pulls back at a crucial moment at the very end. The reader is left to imagine exactly what happened. This light touch at the very end makes the novel.
Where can you summarize? What ways can you leave pieces of your story in your readers’ minds? How will you balance narrative summary with specific description? What do you notice, as a writer, happens to your process when you provide light touches of narrative summary in the midst of heavy scenic elements and action?
For next Sunday, 8/23, please re-examine the three stories/ story segments you prepared for this week. I’d like to know, in each, where you’d summarize and what impact you think that will have on the stories.
Please let me know any questions. Please send your work along for this week as soon as possible as well. Let me know any questions?