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"Description"

Hurley, UK 2016, '"Description"' , in: How to Write Short Fiction (and think about it) , Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-11. (Submitted)

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Abstract

Writers have been creating virtual realities since before computers were even dreamed of. Good fiction conjures an alternative world, gives you a window into someone else’s life, takes you somewhere other. Above all, it’s convincing. Effective description is fundamental to this process. The aim is to entrance your reader by the cunningly set stage to the extent that they don’t notice the ropes and pulleys supporting it all. The craft is in judging what is salient and what is boring, when to zoom in and when to draw back, when to show and when to leave intriguing gaps, when to elongate and when to contract. While these considerations apply to all prose narratives, they are particularly, urgently important in short fiction, where we don't have time to elaborate. A larger text, like a novel, may be able to carry a little extra weight. But a short story offers no hiding place – it must be lean and built for speed. As Alice Munro puts it, “You're much more thinly clothed. You're like somebody out in a little shirt.” i So if we have to travel light, we must choose very carefully what to pack in the case marked 'Description'.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Graham, R
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Related URLs:
Funders: Palgrave Macmillan
Depositing User: Dr Ursula Hurley
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2016 10:05
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2016 10:05
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/39384

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