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There are writers whose style is all about being in-your-face, bluntness, shock-and-awe, heavy on the action and sparse in the food-for-thought category. I’ve read them, I like them, I admire what they can do.

Then there are other writers who are more about subtle influences. Deft touch. Shifting pieces around on a chess board without explaining the motivation behind each move. A bit more cerebral if you may. I’ve read them, I like them, I admire what they can do.

I consider myself, as a writer, more in the second category. I love nuance. Setting a course by suggestion rather than pointing. For me, what isn’t said is almost as telling as what is.

But writing isn’t a black or white endeavor. Left or right. We can be ambidextrous. We can stomp on the accelerator to create as much chaos as possible, and still utilize understated symbolism to drive home a key plot point. Meaning is defined by much more than scale, and a light hand can sometimes resonate with a reader more readily than a banshee with a bullhorn.

At some point along the way we’ve all heard the phrase “trust your reader”. In a way it goes against common convention. Your readers are not equally intelligent, or insightful, or interpretive, so how can you shape your prose to universally reach as many as possible and therefore create that trust? The simple answer is you can’t.

All you can do is go broad and hope your nuance doesn’t get lost in the translation. 

That's my two-cents for the week. For those of you who celebrate it... 


Deja Vu Blogfest Entry - Cognitive Estrangement

Welcome to those of you who are dropping by because of the Deja Vu Blogfest! This weekend I'm reposting a blog I ran in September that didn't receive many comments - which surprised me because I find it a fascinating subject. Let's see how it does this second time around.

It was entitled Cognitive Estrangement.

This mouthful is used to explain what happens when someone experiences a scene or idea that is different from his/her own reality, but similar enough that they can see it being plausible.

In other words…the suspension of disbelief.  

Now that is a phrase everyone recognizes. It explains a person’s willingness to interrupt his/her critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of pure enjoyment. The term was coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative. The concept often applies to fictional works of the action, comedy, fantasy, sci-fi and horror genres. But in reality any genre could have issues with this because a characters motivations and actions often come under fire as being unrealistic, especially when his/her/it arc resembles the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

What’s so interesting about this topic is the literature implies the burden is on the reader, rather than the writer, to achieve it.


I guess subjectivity does include how willing (or unwilling) we are to accept something we might normally reject. That a love for a character or characters could override the concern for a faulty plot-line. There have been a couple of very popular YA series published over the past decade that I have read the first novel to, but chosen not to continue on with the rest of the series. Why? Not because they were terrible reads, they weren’t. No, I was unable to suspend my disbelief regarding the basic premise of the story. (No – I’m not talking about Harry Potter)

But still, the author bears some responsibility, right?  We shouldn’t take the castle on a chessboard and move it diagonally, because that’s against the rules and therefore unbelievable. Or is it? We all flirt with that line in some way or another, which is funny because everybody has a different idea of where that line should be.

What are your thoughts? How much does your work depend upon cognitive estrangement? What books have you read that went to far in that regard?

Deja Vu Blogfest - 2016

Since 2011 I’ve used a rather unique Blogfest to catch up with my blog reading after being distracted for various reasons (e.g. WRiTE CLUB, A-Z Challenge, NaNo, etc). I’m a hardy believer that if something works…stick with it…so here we go again.

One of my pet peeves about the way our blogosphere operates is you can miss some really awesome posts if you’re away for a while. It’s typical to miss hundreds of quality posts (depending on how many blogs you follow) while off doing other things. It’s really hard to rebound when things get like that, so what most people do is simply pick up with the latest post of the regular blogs they follow.  You know what that means?  You missed that post about the signing of an agent!  A book contract finalized…missed!  A cry for help...missed!  A pregnancy or birth announcement…missed!  Some other special event in a bloggers life…passed by!  I just shake my head when I think of all of the special posts I’ve missed this year.  And then there are the informative posts about the topics I’m dying to know more about, yep I probably missed some of those as well.

It’s for this reason that I came up with the Déjà vu Blogfest, and it’s become an annual event.  So I’d like to announce this years…. 

How this blogfest works is so simple I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to do it. Sign-up to participate with Mr. Linky below, then sometime during the weekend of December 16th thru 18th re-post your favorite blog offering from earlier in this year, or one that you believe failed to receive the exposure it deserved. On that weekend what everyone will be reading is the best of the best (as determined by you) from this year.  The blogosphere will be chock full 2016 writing brilliance!  Encouragement, enlightenment, knowledge, bared souls, stimulation, hilarity, insecurities, success stories!  All on display…the very same day.  And it couldn't be any easier to take writing necessary! :)

Please sign-up and then shout out to all of your blogging friends and encourage them to sign up as well.  Take the badge above and plaster it everywhere, blogging graffiti gone wild. Tweet about it (#deja2016vu) and post the picture on Instagram. Sign up below and start looking through those old posts!



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