Strained Distraction

Stories mostly spin tales designed to capture the reader’s attention so as to overwhelm the readers’ consciousness and thus become lost in the paths of the story. This, typically, is called good writing. A story that distracts and loses the reader in the mazes crafted by the writer is considered excellent writing. We all aim for that type of tale. Desiring the reader to leave reality so as to only exist in the tale, we ceaselessly work to form stories that do this. We all walk around patting each other on the backs in congratulatory praise for the best mesmerizing tales. This is of course what most stories are supposed to do.

The realization that the writer sometimes does not desire this to occur too fully presents itself to me.  What do we do, as writers, when we want our readers to gnaw on an idea or concept?  The addition of a discordant noise into the tale will cause the reader unease.  Creating the proper level of this, although a skill not readily come-by, in one’s story can have the effect of denying the reader the escapism so often sought.  Someone is jangling the cowbell outside my window and I cannot fully concentrate on my story.  Damn!  “Where was I?  Oh, yes!” becomes the leading quote of the reader, although less consciously one hopes.  We do still want our story to be enjoyable, after all.

So, in this slightly distracted state, the reader resides.  The time for the insertion of an idea, a concept, a philosophy, or “X” (whatever X is) to occur.  The brain now begins to gnaw at this.  We hold the reader in this state just long enough for this (let us call it idea for this discussion, although it can be anything) idea to sink into the brain and take hold.  What to do now?  Now, we release the reader back in to the somnambulistic state to let them, as Albus Dumbledore puts it, “For in dreams we enter into a world that is entirely our own. Let them swim in the deepest ocean or fly over the highest cloud.”

In other words, now that we have given them an idea, we must release the reader back into the world we craft for them.  We do this so that their unconscious can work on our idea.  The brain begins to mull over the idea.  Releasing them back into our world allows the unease they feel about this new idea to bleed away.  Tension release makes the idea not dangerous but interesting.  Because it is interesting, the reader will embrace it and begin to work to understand and own it.

So, after forcing the reader to think, we allow the return to the great ocean and the whale submerges becoming once again lost in the tale.  This time, though, it carries with it a packet of gold.

So, the writer must needs think on how to jangle the consciousness in just the right wakefulness if an idea/concept/thought/etc. is desired to be introduced into the reader.  There is no formula for doing so as each writer is unique.  Just the knowing of the needfulness of doing so at the right moment is all that is required.

About Kevin Pajak

Of the many, many things I have done, nothing compares to the excitement I feel when writing and playing with both language and theory. Although challenging at times, wordplay brings a special flavor to the universe and allows all of us to see in unique and magic ways. Playing with language--that beast that can never be tamed--gives me an unfettered, ever new vision of the world around. I want to share this love of the written word through the stories I write and the language I craft.
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