In this Seattle Writing Class, we’ll discuss techniques of realistic fiction such as story, characterization, dialogue, point of view and symbolism to enrich and enliven factual writing. All of these techniques tend to show, rather than tell, bringing the reader into the story by attempting to recreate the experience on the page, rather than simply summarizing it.
For example, the poet William Stafford’s uses a scene in his memoir Down In My Heart to demonstrate the difficulty of practicing nonviolence in a violent world. In constructing a scene such as this, writers include important details they or their subject noticed while experiencing an event, so that the reader can see, hear, feel, smell and taste the same scene.
To compose a scene, a writer has to note what gives rise to a particular feeling, and then render that on the page so that the reader can experience the event as the writer did. In scenic writing, a writer shows the reader what happened, rather than summarizing or telling about it.
No technique has transformed nonfiction as completely as the dramatic scene. Much nonfiction is now organized almost exclusively in scenes, whether feature stories, personal essays, nonfiction short stories, memoirs or nonfiction books like the classic traveler’s tale The Fruit Palace by Charles Nicholl, a gripping read about the effect of the cocaine on Colombian society.
A dramatic scene is a complete action, from start to finish, although not necessarily in that order; writers sometimes manipulate the chronology to create suspense or other literary effects. A scene includes the sequence of small actions, dialogue and gestures that make up a larger event. Scenes treat dramatic, significant moments, turning points in the life of the person described. These moments often involve a conflict that is introduced and resolved by the end of the scene.
For more, please consider signing up for my Seattle Writing Class, Follow the Story.