Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Writing to Mesmerize the Reader

(c)copyright 2010 Hamdani

We want to capture the reader's attention, right away, do we not?
Assuming we agree, let's explore means of arriving at that objective. Here are a few tips.

Use the epithet to handcuff the reader's imagination to a given passage. I suggest you write and read poetry to develop the technique and modify your style over a relative short period of time. Use unusual words and phrases to accompany your prose. These words should incur in place of the name of a person or thing, thus the epithet.

{Bare with me. I've included two examples, below. I won't leave you hanging}

Allow your writing to fluctuate from prosaic to insidious to the poetic and back, again, thus elliptic. This is a panacea to otherwise boring narrative. Here's how to do it.

*Give them deliberate obscurity.

*Emphasize the magic of the elliptic.

{continue reading. These techniques are included in the examples, below}

Why? Because adverbs are otherwise relative to the reader's interpretation, but obscurity evokes emotion. Emotion gives the passage crediblity relative to the reader's personal experience or judgement. In other words, obscurity allows the reader to identify with a character or event from the reader's past.

Everyone knows a Smitty and a Fenetriss (characters in my story as depicted below). The roles the characters represent are fiction, but the personalities are not.

*Write a poem about your protagonist/antagonist and watch the magic happen.

The master of this talent, in my opinion, is Emily Dickinson, poet extradionaire. Emily Dickerson could have patented her technique. It is an extreme economy of speech, second to none. The language she used is intrinsically special in that it is elliptically compressed. Her intellectual reticence stops you in your tracks, compelling you, the reader to "feel" her.

{I don't claim to be an Emily Dickerson, but you get the point}

She used metaphors to explain what prose (independently used) cannot. Make a point to read one of her poems each week and see what happens to your writing.

The technique requires a major leap from your present topic to another by the emission of words and then you must revert to poetry, and return to prose, again. To employ this technique, effectively, you want to use words and images that are undefined and allow the reader to attach the face or self-invoked image.

For example, you may resort to words that create images....words like: God, the devil, angels, demons, guardian angels, spirits, a presence and so forth.

Here's what I want you to accomplish: use an economy of words by exploiting silence, elliptically. For example, in one of my upcoming novels (a thriller), I explained the antagonist as such:

It was not Smitty's words that destroyed you. Havoc took place between a few deliberately spoken sentences. His dark eyes remained still beneath thick brows that were becoming of a demon with the appearance of a normal man, except little of Smitty's demeanor was normal. Looking at him gave one the perspective of a person viewing the body of a relative at a wake. One's soul became instantly fragmented by the possibility of being left alone with him. He was a dark place, a sinister element that should not have breathed.

And when he gave you that half-smile, that grimace becoming of nearly every known serial killer, you were immediately aware of your human frailties. He made you want to pray.

His smile offended God.

This technique is not limited to a particular genre. For example, I used it in a romance scene, below.

It was not her words that magnetized the man's heart, but the things Fenetriss didn't say. It was that space between the words spoken and the actual meaning conveyed that made her lover stutter; a place superior to wit and one step below Godliness. When Fenetriss spoke, and just before their lips met, a most sublime silence captured him, even before she closed her eyes. At that very moment, he realized that his propensity to become better or weaker was solely up to her.

He could only hope that her half-smile pleased God.