Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Literary Exposition

Greetings from the Hermit WRiter.

I used the terms narrative and exposition in a recent conversation. My dialogee asked me the difference. Duh. I thought I understood it. After extensive reading, like over an hour, dude, I decided there wasn't much difference. Narrative is simply a larger pool, containing exposition, which is to explain. So, I guess narrative is the over-arcing story, while the exposition is that part that is more informative. Does that sound good?

Narrative exposition is the insertion of important background information within a story; for example, information about the setting, characters' backstories, prior plot events, historical context, etc.[1] 

In a specifically literary context, exposition appears in the form of expository writing embedded within the narrative.

Exposition is one of four rhetorical modes (also known as modes of discourse), along with descriptionargumentation, and narration, as elucidated by Alexander Bain and John Genung.[2] 

Each of the rhetorical modes is present in a variety of forms, and each has its own purpose and conventions. There are several ways to accomplish exposition.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Effective Endings

Greetings from the Hermit WRiter.

I have published 37 novels. The endings of my earlier books are nothing like my recent writing, but I still liked them. After coming to love my characters, I never want to tell them good bye.  They have more story in them, so I often leave the reader with a hook for the sequel. The missus has turned on me and said, "That's all!"

A reader's disappointment is reassuring, when they want more.

Here are notes about how one expert feels about endings. For me, it's a balancing act to resolve enough of the main character's issues to settle the reader's mind, without ruining it by overly explaining too much.


1. Give the protagonist a choice between two specific, alternative courses of action (one tough/easy)
2. Force the protagonist to choose
3. In choosing, the character must take an irrevocable action (physical action)


• Climax must satisfy the plot
• Deliver emotion
• Be logical to plot and characters

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Only Elmore Leonard Rule I Follow

Greetings from the Hermit WRiter.

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.

To read the other ten:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Eight Writing Sins

Greetings from the Hermit WRiter.

  • Poor Grammar
  • Stilted Sentences
  • Stilted Dialog
  • Stilted Description
  • Stilted Action
  • Imprecision
  • Repetition
  • No Sequiturs 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dialog, Sounding Real

Greetings from the Hermit WRiter.

  • Most people don’t speak in perfect grammar.
    • Real speech is sloppy.
    • People leave out words, compress phases into single words, use contractions, interrupt each other and talk in slang.
    • Your dialogue should be the same--in moderation . . . too much can slow down the reader . . . NOT what you want to do, either.  
  • Listen in public to the many different ways different people talk, and notice that how a person talks depends on whom they’re talking to.
    • Incorporate any appropriate juicy bits you hear in your own writing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Dialog - Break it Up

Greetings from the Hermit WRiter.

Some notes I've made over the years on dialog.

  •  Never have long stretches of dialogue.
    • Break up large blocks at strategic places with
      • Physical action
      • Replies
      • Description and
      • Other story elements.
    • This enriches the rhythm of the dialogue and brings the conversation to life in your reader's mind.
  • Space the conversation within the page by giving each person their own paragraph.
    • This makes the page less overwhelming (not an endless scroll of words)
    • Gives readers a spatial beat between speakers that makes following the conversation easier.
    • Don't hide dialog within narrative.
  • Never include the main character's narrative with another character's dialog. This reduces the impact of the dialogue.

  • If the narrative doesn't tightly connect to the character's words, put it in its own paragraph.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Description, Hilary Mantel

Greetings from the Hermit WRiter.

Description must work for its place. It can't be simply ornamental. It usually works best if it has a human element; it is more effective if it comes from an implied viewpoint, rather than from the eye of God. If description is coloured by the viewpoint of the character who is doing the noticing, it becomes, in effect, part of character definition and part of the action.