Literary fiction’s subsumption by other genres and vice-versa has become so pervasive one must wonder what distinction if any can still be claimed by “pure” literary fiction beyond pretentiousness.
One reason behind the supremacy of the writing rule “Show, don’t tell” is that telling is, frankly, harder. To gain and hold a reader’s attention through action and dialogue is one thing. To do so through exposition is another.
To those who may object that the mere fact of two opposite-sexed people sharing the first scene of a novel (and a cockpit) doesn’t—necessarily—imply a romantic future between them, all I can say is … yes, it does.
I have had mixed feelings about ghost narrators. As narrative sleights-of-hand go, it strikes me as a little too easy, a bit too glib. It also requires suspension of all four laws of thermodynamics.
When we read about routines in fiction, or in any kind of story, most if not all the pleasure we get from the experience derives from our anticipation of seeing the routine shattered, or, at the very least, disrupted.
In most works of fiction, either a character’s status-quo condition of discontent is challenged when opportunity presents itself — or — a character’s status-quo condition of contentment meets with an obstacle.
Among a novelist’s chief challenges is that of determining what information to supply when and where: how to balance the desire to arouse suspense with the need to prevent confusion.
While there are seven deadly first-page sins I commonly encounter, there is one that’s most deadly of all: default omniscience. No point of view = no story.