A Writing Shtick That Will Rain Golden Prose Upon Your Novel And Cause Your Readers To Weep With Tremulous Joy

When you are writing, it is wise to employ a meta-relationship to your readers; if something absurd or magnificent happens in the scene, and if your characters do not respond to the ridiculousness, or to the awe-inspiring elements of your writing, they (the characters) will begin to feel just a little bit wooden to the reader.

Example: I was doing a play outdoors once, and a very low and loud airplane went over our heads. The sound of the airplane was so loud that everyone in the audience turned and looked up. The actors could not be heard over the roar of the engines.

Now, the actor who was speaking could have “stayed in the scene,” and pressed on with her dialogue. If she had done this, the audience would have lost several lines of dialogue.

The actor could have paused, and then pressed on dutifully with the scene as soon as the sound had faded. The audience would have felt jolted out of the scene, but all would have been reasonably well after the interruption.

Instead, the actor employed a bit of meta-story; as soon as the plane’s roar had faded, she turned to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, and informed them that she (as her character) had returned from her long travels (the character was in the midst of a homecoming) on just such a plane as that.

The audience laughed; they were delighted. The actor was flush with victory; the scene proceeded smoothly. Magic had just occurred.

The audience had, in real time, experienced a disturbing interruption. The actor, seizing on the moment, had enhanced the play, and grounded the scene in the interruption that had occurred.

The audience was left with the sense that the actors (storytellers) were reliable, because they could and would respond to the reality that the audience was experiencing.

When your reader is reading your book, they are experiencing, on a semi-visceral level, the reality within the scene. If, for example, a key character begins to act out of sorts, because you know he’s going to reveal an important secret soon, at least one, and preferably several of the other characters need to notice and acknowledge the same reality that the reader is experiencing. If a well-established character starts to sulk in corners, and make dark and meaningful glances at the heroine, the heroine, the chambermaid, and the court jester had all better notice this behavior just as much as the reader is meant to.

Acknowledging,and participating in the reality that you are constructing for the reader, and allowing your characters to participate in “the real story,” or “what is REALLY going on,” lends authenticity and emotional vibrancy to your book.

Embrace meta-story. Your readers will think your writing is realistic and eerily deep.

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