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11.12.2012 00:50    Comments: 0    Categories: Fiction Writing  Writing  Writing Craft      Tags: h. thomas milhorn  prose  genre  fiction  guide  craft  

Key Elements (From Chapter 1 of  Writing Genre Fiction: A Guide to the Craft by H.T. Milhorn)

 

To create a fictional world that seems real to readers, writers use a minimum of six key elements:

 

1. Plot, Story and Structure
2. Setting
3. Characters
4. Point of View
5. Prose
6. Theme and Subject

 

 

PROSE

 

Prose is ordinary written language—the language of fiction. It comes in several forms, among them (1) narrative, (2) description, and (3) dialogue. Each of these types of prose has a different function in fiction, and it is necessary to understand how each one works.23,32

 

NARRATIVE, in contrast to action and dialogue, is essentially stagnant blocks of information. The character is telling what is happening—giving a summary of dialogue and action. Regardless of how engaging and well written narrative is it won't hold a reader's attention for long because nothing is actively going on in the story. There’s no action.

 

Narrative is useful when acting out the story with dialogue and action would do little to further the reader’s understanding of the characters or plot. It is information the reader needs to understand what is happening in the present, but not deemed by the writer to warrant the amount of space that action and dialogue would require. Narrative also can be used to foreshadow a coming major event.

 

Because narrative is summarizing, it lacks the excitement of dramatization. Therefore writers try to be certain that narrative doesn't drag down their novel's pacing. How do they accomplish this? By breaking it up with dialogue and action.

 

Narrative of dramatic situations, such as a car chase or a fight scene, is known a dramatic summary. With dramatic summary, material that might take several pages of action and dialogue may take only a few paragraphs.2,18,23,32

 

Writing DESCRIPTION is painting a vivid picture with words. It can be used to set the scene, move the plot, set the mood, foreshadow events, give a sense of character, or whatever it has to do to keep the story moving. Without description, characters move about in vague buildings or fuzzy landscapes. However, some writers err in the other direction by including too much description; by doing so they run the risk of boring the reader.

 

By using description in combination with action and dialogue, writers break the description down into palatable pieces. For instance, instead of stopping a story to describe trees, flowers, and a waterfall in a plush lobby of an upscale office building, writers come up with a reason for this description to be in the story; that is, a reason for the characters to be interacting with that setting through action and dialogue.33-35

 

Verbal communication, known as DIALOGUE, generally refers to anything spoken by a character, even if the character is not actually speaking to anyone.

  • “What do you mean Vito’s disappeared with the money?” Angelo asked.

Sometimes the term is broadened to include the thoughts of a character.

  • “If I tell him the truth he’ll kill me,” Pasquale thought.

Conversation, the way we speak to one another in daily living, isn’t dialogue. In real life, whether conversation is dull or interesting has little bearing. The opposite is true of dialogue; it has to be interesting. Dialogue is said to be a special kind of conversation; that is, conversation with drama.1,2,36,37

 

References


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  18. Hinze, Vickey, Exposition vs. Narrative, http://www.fictionfactor.com/guests/exposition.html.
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