Sunday, April 9, 2017

“R’s” for Writers

One could easily generate an alphabet for writers, or an alternate list of words starting, for example, with “s.” Fair enough. Today, though, “r” is the star.

~ Recurrence.

Introduce a series of symbols, character traits, facial tics, faux pas, or whatever to build intensity. Just be careful to add and develop rather than merely repeat.

~ Reflection.

A lot of important writing happens minus paper or keyboard. Mull possibilities. Have a notebook or smart phone handy to record them.

~ Repetition.

For readers, this is a dirty word—a disgustingly dirty one. Clean up by varying syntax, word choice, scene openings and closings, and so on. Redundancy is NyQuil for words.

~ Resolution.

Earn it. This means that your protagonist, antagonist, and many members of the supporting cast, face situations and decisions that necessitate growthful change. An earned ending is one you set up, ideally, in the first chapter, perhaps even within its first paragraph.

~ Resonance.

In Literary Resonance in the Art of Writing, the author suggests that 
To “resonate” literally means to bounce back and forth between two states or places. Resonate comes from the Latin word for “resound.” In sound, resonance is a prolonged response to something that caused things to vibrate. When sound reverberates, it's resonating within a bounded space, like the body of a guitar. Thunder often resonates/reverberates across an uneven landscape….Resonance in writing is something that affects us the same way. It's an aura of significance, significance beyond the otherwise insignificant event taking place.      
The novel escalates the potential for emotional and thematic connection when first, characters and events resonate with universal experience, and second, when details and description offer both literal and symbolic meaning. This can be overdone. But without experimenting, how can you know whether layering would enrich?
~ Reverberation. 

Literally, “a remote or indirect consequence of some action,” or “the repetition of a sound resulting from reflection of the sound waves” ( How does this relate to fiction? Strong images and plot points affect characters—and readers—long after the initial moment fades away.

~ Revisitation.

The sestina, a 13th century French poetic form, enhances meaning by changing the context each time the author revisits a complex pattern involving six words. In fiction, the parallel is motif, which reexamines the word or concept under different circumstances. The original meaning evolves, becoming more nuanced. Instead of constantly changing the palette of details, let significance percolate within the space between one mention of a lighthouse, and the next and the next, as Virginia Woolf does in the novel of that title, or Harper Lee does with mockingbirds. 

Tip: Revise to provide resolution through the recurrence that contributes resonance.

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