Tag Archives: literature

The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf

The Mark on the WallThis is one of my favourite short stories: a meditative stream of consciousness with intelligent irony. It’s also where the band Modest Mouse found their name. I wrote a piece of close criticism on it for a course I completed earlier this year. I’ve highlighted the literary techniques Woolf has used – it’s so impressive how much she has fitted into just two paragraphs. We can all learn from the greats.

I chose the following paragraphs to analyse:

Perhaps it was the middle of January in the present year that I first looked up and saw the mark on the wall. In order to fix a date it is necessary to remember what one saw. So now I think of the fire; the steady film of yellow light upon the page of my book; the three chrysanthemums in the round glass bowl on the mantelpiece. Yes, it must have been the winter time, and we had just finished our tea, for I remember that I was smoking a cigarette when I looked up and saw the mark on the wall for the first time. I looked up through the smoke of my cigarette and my eye lodged for a moment upon the burning coals, and that old fancy of the crimson flag flapping from the castle tower came into my mind, and I thought of the cavalcade of red knights riding up the side of the black rock. Rather to my relief the sight of the mark interrupted the fancy, for it is an old fancy, an automatic fancy, made as a child perhaps. The mark was a small round mark, black upon the white wall, about six or seven inches above the mantelpiece.

 How readily our thoughts swarm upon a new object, lifting it a little way, as ants carry a blade of straw so feverishly, and then leave it…. If that mark was made by a nail, it can’t have been for a picture, it must have been for a miniature—the miniature of a lady with white powdered curls, powder-dusted cheeks, and lips like red carnations. A fraud of course, for the people who had this house before us would have chosen pictures in that way—an old picture for an old room. That is the sort of people they were—very interesting people, and I think of them so often, in such queer places, because one will never see them again, never know what happened next. They wanted to leave this house because they wanted to change their style of furniture, so he said, and he was in process of saying that in his opinion art should have ideas behind it when we were torn asunder, as one is torn from the old lady about to pour out tea and the young man about to hit the tennis ball in the back garden of the suburban villa as one rushes past in the train.

Here’s my analysis:

virginiawoolfThis short story can be seen as a study of internal monologue as a form and an exploration of the fluidity of thought. The story begins with the word ‘perhaps’, immediately drawing attention to the unreliability of a first person narrator recalling the past and to give it the naturalism of a person trying to recall the specifics of an event. Throughout it has a conversational tone, ‘so he said’, as if the narrator is confiding in the reader. The same conspiratorial effect is created by ‘A fraud of course’, wherein the similar vowel sounds verge on assonance, giving an added phonological impact to this colloquial declarative that abruptly ends a descriptive flight of fancy.

The narrator fancies she sees the fire as ‘the cavalcade of red knights’. The alliterative fricatives in the phrase ‘that old fancy of the crimson flag flapping’ lend an excitement and verve to this image. There seems to be some irony in her ‘relief’ as the ‘sight of the mark interrupted the fancy’ because the majority of the story seems to be her exercising her imagination. The fact that it is ‘an old fancy, an automatic fancy, made as a child perhaps’ implies that this is part of her character – the tendency for her mind to wander to the fantastical. Again in the phrase is the ‘perhaps’ of not quite knowing from whence her thoughts and memories come. This self-confessedly fallible narrator seems more genuine because of her uncertainties: an irony that adds to the depth of the narrative point.

The dark spot on the wall is the focus of the story that she returns to, periodically anchoring the stream of consciousness. Colours of ‘crimson’ and ‘red’ provide a contrast with the mark, ‘black upon the white wall’, perhaps juxtaposing the vibrancy of the imagination with the room. The description of her knight image is finished with the words ‘black rock’. The pararhyme creates a definitive, conclusive end to her distraction. She returns directly after to the mark. The colours ‘red’ and ‘white’ reappear in another fanciful thought: ‘the miniature of a lady with white powdered curls, powder-dusted cheeks, and lips like red carnations.’ It is interesting that the flowers of her simile are given colour, yet the ‘three chrysanthemums’ that stand on her mantelpiece are not. This could indicate that she is more taken by the brilliance of colour in her mind’s eye than in reality and so more absorbed with her internal life.

At times the story seems a self-aware exploration of internal monologue, ‘how readily our thoughts swarm upon a new object.’ The lexical field of nature hints at the idea that it is ingrained in human behaviour patterns to think this way.  In this simile, the ants carry ‘a blade of straw’, rather than grass, thus suggesting that their exercise is futile and ultimately unfulfilling. The implication is that swarming thoughts are similarly fruitless.

Complex sentences reflect the flow of related thoughts; the final sentence of the second paragraph is significantly longer than others, evoking excitability in the focaliser’s rapidly flowing thoughts. The extreme verb ‘torn asunder’ indicates the significance of this conversation to her, potentially because of the idea presented: ‘art should have ideas behind it.’ It is possible that Woolf is making a wider point here about the art of literature that she intends the reader to pause on. The simile that follows shows the narrator seeing things as they almost happen, ‘as one is torn from the old lady about to pour out tea and the young man about to hit the tennis ball in the back garden of the suburban villa as one rushes past in the train.’ Her experiences are incomplete, unsatisfactory, connoting the truncated and fleeting nature of thought. It is also reminiscent of the way she pulls short and limits her moments of imagination at the start of the story.

A contrast is created by the staid thinking of the people that owned the house previously, who moved because they ‘wanted to change their style of furniture.’ Their insistence on a single style of house and décor is contrapuntal to the fluid, imaginative thinking of the narrator. The repetition in ‘an old picture for an old room’ highlights the simplicity of their view.

The narrator’s curiosity about the neighbours seems to be phrased more as one would refer to a story than to people, ‘one will… never know what happened next’, as if their lives are a tale without ending. This further connotes her tendency to imagination. In this case and elsewhere, the voice changed from using the first person ‘I’ to the inclusive pronoun ‘one’, which creates a distance from the sentiment. This has the effect of drawing attention to the thoughts and their processes: she is observing the thoughts as if they are held by another, but also creating the sense that her concerns could have universality.

This story typifies a modernist transition from traditional first person narration to stream of consciousness. The narrator begins by resisting distraction, drawing the story back to the mark on the wall. However, in her attempt to express the nature of wandering thoughts, she ultimately introduces imagery that is more elaborate and evocative than her childhood imaginings. The reader realises that mark on the wall is the catalyst for an exploration of the ever-active mind.

Read the full text of The Mark on the Wall here if this has sparked your interest.

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How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton

What makes a work of literature good or bad? How freely can the reader interpret it? In this accessible, delightfully entertainingHow to Read Literature book, Terry Eagleton addresses these intriguing questions and a host of others. In a series of brilliant analyses, Eagleton shows how to read with due attention to tone, rhythm, texture, syntax, allusion, ambiguity, and other formal aspects of literary works. He also examines broader questions of character, plot, narrative, the creative imagination, the meaning of fictionality, and the tension between what works of literature say and what they show. Unfailingly authoritative and cheerfully opinionated, the author provides useful commentaries on classicism, Romanticism, modernism, and postmodernism along with spellbinding insights into a huge range of authors, from Shakespeare and J. K. Rowling to Jane Austen and Samuel Beckett.

That’s what the synopsis says. This book is clearly competent – it is written by a well-known literary professor and commentator and generally I love this sort of book. When I’m not reading literature, I’m reading books about literature. So I thought the best way to review it would be to see whether it lives up to its own hype.

I do agree that it helps to answer those initial framing questions with strong examples and intelligent points. I also concur that it was entertaining. I liked the author’s wit and sense of humour, though I feel that his frame of reference might not be universally relatable. I think this reviewer sums it up: ‘I think he’s trying to be funny. I don’t know because his type of humour is not my type of humour. I can see when he’s being funny, and I can imagine people laughing, but my reaction is “…. OK”.’

This brings me to the claim of accessibility. I think for the wholly uninitiated, the vocabulary may be challenging and new terms aren’t always explained. However, it is worth persisting. The analyses are illuminating, giving proper recognition to the formal features of literature. Eagleton’s writing is at its best when he guides the reader through a great range of examples: his talent and passion shine through. He covers a huge amount in a reasonably sized volume from the intricacies of technical aspects to over-arching themes and critical perspectives.

Overall, although I wouldn’t be quiet so enthusiastic with my adjectives, the synopsis does reflect this amusing and thoughtful book. The questions it asks are worth debating and add to the ongoing conversation  about how to determine the value of literature.

What does make a work of literature good or bad? What makes a book literature? Please tell me your thoughts in the comments!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Yale University Press for the copy.


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‘Thou Smell of Mountain Goat’ and Other Useful Comebacks

Groucho Marx

‘That’s not writing, it’s typing.’ Truman Capote said of Jack Kerouac. When writers aren’t dissing each other, they put their best insults in their books. Here are some of my favourite literary put-downs.

This post was inspired by a birthday gift of Shakespearean insult badges (see picture). I remember when my birthday badges used to say ‘It’s my birthday’ or ‘I’m [insert age here] today’, but as they don’t seem to make those for people over a certain age, these days I get ‘Thou smell of mountain goat’.  Let’s start with some more classic barbs from the bard.

William Shakespeare

‘I desire that we be better strangers.’ The classy way to unfriend someone. 

shakespearean insults

‘He has not so much brain as earwax.’ Which reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut:  ‘If your brains were dynamite, there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.’

Jane Austen

For when the obligatory guy with acoustic guitar and indeterminate facial hair arrangement has pushed it with one too many Jeff Buckley covers around the camp fire… ‘You have delighted us long enough.’

‘Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.’ Just wander off into your mind palace when above bloke has had his instrument forcible removed and turns instead to monologuing cod philosophy.

P.G Wodehouse

‘And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need.’ A genuinely slow person may struggle with the maths here, thus you are safe to insult away without fear of repercussions.

‘You probably think that being a guest in your aunt’s house I would hesitate to butter you all over the front lawn and dance on the fragments in hobnailed boots, but you are mistaken. It would be a genuine pleasure.’

Charles Dickens

‘He’d make a lovely corpse.’ It’s a threat, but not one Scotland Yard could have you for.

‘The plain truth is, that he was a most intolerable ruffian, a disgrace to human nature, and a blot of blood and grease upon the history of England.’ Tell me what you really think…

Oscar Wilde

‘I never saw someone take so long to dress which such little result.’ Boom. Or perhaps we should forgo unkind banter and follow Wilde’s wise judgement:

always forgive

Do you have a favourite? Tell me in the comments! If you enjoyed this, please like and share.


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The Shakespeare Interpretations I’d Like to See

Happy Shakespeare’s birthday everyone!

I have been to see two productions of Romeo and Juliet in my time. The first was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s interpretation, romeo-and-juliettransposing this great love story to Fascist Italy. It was a moving production in black, grey, white and fierce red, with prison-like sets and breath-taking performances. The second was in a park of a summer’s evening, by a less-renowned organisation, which consisted of about four people trying to play all the parts. Much of the dialogue was shouted from behind curtains as actors frantically transformed from Tybalt to Lady Capulet. One of these productions moved me to tears, at the other, I had to work very hard not to laugh during the tomb scene. My point is, it’s not just the bard’s words that matter, but the whole production. Here are some I’d buy a front row seat in the circle for. 

Julius Caesar as played by the coalition government: ‘Et tu, Clegg?’

A gender reversed production of The Taming of the Shrew, wherein women would conspire to train men like ‘falcon(s)’ and say such questionable things as  ‘[I] am born to tame you’, and ‘Thy [wife] is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, Thy head, thy sovereign’ while forcing their menfolk not to eat or sleep for several days. Let’s see how it looks when the silken Elizabethan shoe is on the other foot. 

midsummer-nights-dream-shakes-puckA Midsummer Night’s Dream should become A Midsomer Night’s Dream, set in the fictional, picturesque murder capital of England. It makes Puck lurking in the bushes just that little bit more sinister. Just imagine this on ITV1 of a Tuesday:

‘Thus I die. Thus, thus, thus.
Now I am dead,
Now I am fled,
My soul is in the sky.
Tongue, lose thy light.
Moon take thy flight.
Now die, die, die, die.’

A band of people in a remote location who must complete tasks to rejoin civilisation? It’s either The Tempest or ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’. I propose adding Ant and/or Dec to the former or Sir Ian McKellen to the latter, I don’t mind which. ‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here,’ again, really could apply to either.  

One more: Hamlet in Space. Think about it. 

Have you seen any memorable Shakespeare plays? What version would you like to see? Tell me in the comments! 

As Shakespeare said, please like and share this post – thanks! 


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Celebrating Singledom in Fiction

bromanceOn this most romantic of days, not everyone has a Romeo or Juliet of their own to hand (good thing too, says Mark Vernon as that, like our greatest of love stories is above all else, a tragedy). Love is nice, but there are a myriad of good things about flying solo too.

Think of Sherlock Holmes: intelligent and insightful, there’s simply no space inside his mind-palace for  anyone Jessica fletcher else. Satisfied by a good mystery solved and with plenty of time to cultivate a thriving bromance, I see nothing wrong with Holmes’ way of life. It seems to be a theme amongst the best detectives as Miss Marple, Poirot and Jessica Fletcher are all largely uncoupled. They have time to think, write, travel as they please and grow impressive moustaches, well, in Poirot’s case anyway.

Many of the best characters have other sorts of love in their atticus finchlives. Consider To Kill a Mockingbird’s  Atticus Finch. He’s a compassionate humanitarian who cares deeply for his child, his client and the community, and even has sympathy for the accuser. Miss Honey from Matilda is another example of a loving person; her happy ending is sharing her life with a bright and bookish adopted daughter.

Mary Poppins is a single woman who enjoys her freedom. She swoops in when she feels like it, cheers peopleMP up, meets chimney sweeps and penguins, then flies off on her umbrella when she fancies going elsewhere. A tied down Mary Poppins simply would not do.

Bertie Wooster spends his life trying to avoid being engaged so that he can do as he pleases with his gentleman’s gentleman, the wonderful Jeeves. Though he goes through infatuations, Bertie dreads a woman taking him away from having bun fights at his club and generally having jolly japes. Consider this as exemplar: ‘In fact there was a time when I had an idea I was in love with Cynthia. However, it blew over. A dashed pretty and lively and attractive girl, mind you, but full of ideals and all that.


I may be wronging her, but I have an idea that she’s the sort of girl who would want a fellow to carve out a career and what not. I know I’ve heard her speak favourably of Napoleon. So what with one thing and another the jolly old frenzy sort of petered out, and now we’re just pals. I think she’s a topper, and she thinks me next door to a looney, so everything’s nice and matey.’

Generally, single people have had the time and focus to forge careers, friendships and full lives. The single women of Cranford, Larkrise to Candleford and other such classics have a great time.

Not forgetting Batman – you can’t keep that much secret technology hidden when someone else moves into the manor and he’d have far less time to perch moodily on the high ledges, staring out over the city. 

Most of these people are single most of the time to the best of my knowledge – I’m aware dalliances and trysts may have occurred. Can you think of any more? I’d love to see them in the comments!

Please like and share if you enjoyed this. Thanks!

‘I like being single, I’m always there when I need me.’ – Art Leo

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The Idealist

The Idealist

Jean Lopez’s historical novel is so compelling that I read it in one sitting. Based on historical fact, it tells the fascinating story of a young, idealistic lawyer, José Antonio, who became a fascist political leader at a tumultuous moment in Spanish history: the Civil War. It cleverly explores the relationship between personal charm and authoritarianism. His character is by far the most enthralling and best written in the book; I was less invested in the invented people. Lively dialogue and a constant sense of purpose and deep emotion kept me interested until the end. Short chapters allow the violence and drama to build at credible pace.

 The quality of writing is very high. The author smoothly adopts her characters’ perspectives to give their rich and varied impressions on people and events. For example, we see José Antonio through the eyes of several others, including his aunt:

‘But of course all of José Antonio’s girlfriends had been beautiful. Tía Ma would have been surprised indeed if they had not been so. He reminded her of a little boy collecting butterflies.’

The author has clearly done a vast amount of research; the authenticity of detail makes it an informative portrait of a time. However, the first part has a great deal of factual exposition to the extent that passages felt like they were written in a different style (closer to that of historical non-fiction). This amount of information is perhaps beneficial as it grounds the reader in the veracity of the occurrences, but I would have preferred the literary voice to be more closely maintained. Additionally, I found the epilogue to be too long; I have always been taught that epilogues should be brief. From a proofreader’s perspective, I couldn’t help but notice a few rogue punctuation marks. These flaws are minor and should not prevent anyone from enjoying a seriously impressive and accomplished work that deserves to be widely read. I want a whole collection of Jean Lopez texts to teach me about world history through her original and absorbing prose.

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Secrets and Lies

Intrigue is the root of so much great storytelling. I think the trick to writing it well is to give enough clues for the reader to have a few guesses at what secret is held by the mysterious aristocrat/creepy housekeeper/any character who gives cryptic answers to simple questions while gazing with a troubled frown into the middle distance. Yet don’t let your audience get too close to the truth- perhaps pop in a few red herrings; a surprise ending is always a treat! Or, it can be great fun to drum up a bit of dramatic irony- let your audience  in on the secret and let the anticipation for the fall out build!

I recently read the absolutely brilliant Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Bradden. The eponymous protagonist lacks a credible back story, refuses to see certain guests and giggles awkwardly before becoming deathly pale far too often to be innocent. The reader is brilliantly fooled along with the characters up until the final dénouement: more twists than a curly-wurly on a helter skelter.

Many of the best secrets are hidden in attics (see Dorian Gray) but Jane Eyre’s Mr Rochester hides a whole wife up there. It is an undeniable classic by Charlotte Brontë; secrecy and foreboding are cleverly maintained throughout.

Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations has a greatly unexpected reveal- who’s funding Pip? Probably one of the eccentric wealthy people in the novel…or perhaps not!

In The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Misselthwaite Manor is host to many secrets behind locked doors, in addition to the magical garden. Even a child, Colin, is hidden away. It is a master class in that timeless literary technique of implying something’s wrong with the use of shifty servants.

A complex web of secrets is found in Daniel Deronda by George Eliot. The biggest secret is who the title character really is. Is he the illegitimate son of the chap that he suspects is his father? Moreover, everyone else is hiding something: affairs, secret children, the fact that they’ve found out someone else’s secret but aren’t willing to tell them. The whole thing becomes an ‘I know something you don’t know’ to the power of ‘I know something you think I don’t know but actually, I do’.

Also, the device is used in practically every Shakespeare play:

Romeo and Juliet: ‘I just met you, and this is crazy, but how about we get married and keep it a secret from our families?’

Hamlet: ‘I killed your father to marry your mother.’ and, ‘I’m not actually mad. Or am I?’

Julius Caesar: ‘We’re going to kill the chap in charge, and yep, Brutus is coming too.’

Merchant of Venice: ‘I’m a woman dressed as a man.’

Twelfth Night: ‘I’m a woman dressed as a man.’

The Merry Wives of Windsor: ‘I’m a man dressed as a woman.’ (Just for a touch of variety…)

What do you think of my list? Do any other brilliant fictional secrets spring to mind? Please share in the comments!

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Hermione for President: Children’s Characters Who Would be Good World Leaders

Inspired by other brilliant bloggers and the recent US elections, I’ve been thinking: which children’s characters would I put in charge of a country? Here’s my shortlist:

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy from the Narnia Series by C.S Lewis. There are four of them and they ruled over Narnia for aeons- that sounds like the ultimate coalition government to me! Also, they’re incredibly flexible: a talking lion tells them they’re about to be the monarchs of a magical land and they take it in their stride.

Badger from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. He’s wise, reclusive and a bit grumpy, but he takes care of his friends, even when they’re being ridiculous. He resides in the Wild Wood, demonstrating that he’s not afraid of anyone- not even weasels. Also, there definitely wouldn’t be a cull if he was in charge.

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. Intelligent, strong and single-minded, I’m pretty sure

if J.K Rowling decided to write a ‘where are they now?’ she’d be climbing the greasy pole in the Ministry of Magic.

The Fat Controller from Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. W. Awdry. Just because it would be lovely if the trains ran on time! He takes care of business.

I’d love to hear your ideas- let me know who you’d put in charge in the comments!


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A Letter to Persephone Books

Dear Persephone Books,

 These last few days, my time has not been measured in hours and minutes, but by pages and chapters, so deeply has Emma Smith’s ‘The Far Cry’ absorbed me. The vivid, multicoloured, extraordinary description of the sudden flight of a young girl and her father to India is a delight to read. The sense of place is sublimely evoked by a gift for listing unparalleled in modern literature!

 Oh, Persephone Books, you spoil me! For it is not just this gem that you’ve excavated from the annals of women’s literary history; you have collated and curated a stunning collection of neglected and out of print works from the early to mid-twentieth century.

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding’ by Julia Strachey is another triumph. This close, sardonic deconstruction of a family on a single day makes for a pacey novella worth reading.

 I feel as if I could hole myself up in a grey, paperbacked fortress and be merry for a good long time with only your beautiful wares for company. Never before have I been so enchanted by the endpapers of volumes, so carefully selected from archives and museums to illustrate the era and subject matter of the texts. For Susan Glaspell’s ‘Fidelity’, for example, the image of 19th Century quilting beautifully echoes the scenery and content of the novel. This is such a marvellous story of a woman running off with someone else’s husband. Its moral depth and compassion are admirable.

 I must also mention ‘The New House’ by the brilliantly named Lettice Cooper. This is an intimate portrayal of a single day in the lives of a family moving from a grand house with beautiful gardens to a smaller property overlooking a council estate. The characters are believably complex and their relationships acutely naturalistic. Persephone Books, your choices are exceptional, and I haven’t even got around to mentioning the non-fiction works, or short story collections (‘Tea with Mr Rochester’ by Frances Towers was a particular joy).

Thank you, Persephone Books, for finding and reprinting these wonderful examples of women’s literature. You have made me very happy. 

 with love and admiration,



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Show and Tell: Advice for Writers

‘Show don’t tell’ is advice often given to writers, but it’s a difficult balance to strike. How do you let your readers know what’s happening if you don’t tell them? It really means that you should demonstrate information through plot, dialogue and other literary techniques, rather than stating a series of facts. This is the difference between saying, ‘Roger was angry when he got home,’ and ‘Roger stormed in, slamming the door behind him.’ The former version provides the necessary information, but the latter is arguably more engaging as it illustrates the emotion, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusion.

Showing, rather than telling, can also be instrumental in moving the plot forward. Rather than spending time describing characters, settings and events separately, they could all, for example, be introduced in a section of dialogue. This can show how the characters talk, how they feel about situations and keep the momentum of the story going. For example:

‘Please,’ said Ryan, proffering the spare scooter helmet. ‘’Simportant. Need to talk to you. Ain’t much time left.’

            ‘Why?’ Snapped Clara, ‘You goin’ some place?’

            ‘You and me both,’ murmured Ryan. ‘The right place, ’opefully.’

In this extract from Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, we get a sense of the character’s attitudes, accents and relationship. By showing, the author brings the reader right into the moment; a sense of urgency is created in the dialogue. I definitely recommend this book, by the way, it’s a really good read.

There is such a thing, however, as too much showing and not enough telling. In Philip Roth’s Deception, for example, the story is told only through unattributed dialogue. The lack of authorial voice  to explain who is speaking, where they are, their relationships to each other and, frankly, why the reader should care, means that even the kindest reviewers euphemistically labelled it ‘challenging’.

Telling can ensure that key information has been made obvious to the reader. To illustrate this:

Bert White was a frail-looking, weedy, pale-faced boy, fifteen years of age and about four feet nine inches in     height…He was a pitiable spectacle of neglect and wretchedness…

Robert Tressel, in his novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, tells the reader about Bert’s physical appearance and goes on to describe the other characters in similar detail. This helps the reader to get a sense of the character; they can see what the author thinks is important for them to observe. Tressel wrote the novel to draw attention to the problem of poverty; telling allowed him to directly express the state of people he encountered and describe the conditions he experienced truthfully.

Telling can also clarify plot points. If you want the reader to know about something that happened in the past, for example, it might be more straight-forward to just tell them rather than spending time in flashbacks or long reminiscences.

Adopting the mantra ‘show, don’t tell’ will keep your stories dynamic and interesting. Avoiding a distractingly dominant authorial voice allows the reader to become immersed in the world you are creating. Nevertheless, ensure that you convey necessary information and vital plot points; enough, at least, to sign-post your reader towards what you want to show them. Now let’s see if Roger’s calmed down…

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