Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 48

shared illumination

writing a scene employing minimal description of objects and persons, relying on the reader's experience to fill in the blanks. For example, if I have a dining room with a chandelier, just the mention of chandelier should tap into the reader's image archive. By describing it a single crystal and perhaps the number of tiers shapes it perfectly for the reader's mental eye. Of course, with just three elements, the author has created not one chandelier, but as many chandeliers as there are readers. Shared illumination engages a reader's mind and keeps them in the work. It also reminds authors that the reading experience is one on one. Now this is not an exoneration for eliminating detailed descriptions, which are often needed in sequences and in some genres more crucial and expected.

Edward C. Patterson

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