Thursday, February 11, 2010

Deciphering Devices

It's only February but summer camp registration has begun. This is always a time of year that I get anxious because I usually don't have extra money around for camp deposits but I know I won't be able to work during the summer if the kids aren't in camp! Oh, the quandary of being self-employed. So I've been metaphorically pounding the pavement the past few weeks sending out queries and applications for telecommuting writer/editor positions. Hopefully my hard work will pay off soon.
I've also ramped up my cardio work-outs lately and have been seeing a pay-off with my clothes feeling a little looser and my mind feeling much clearer. Did you know that exercise is a great creativity boost?
During my recent time on the elliptical I've had so many ideas for my novel tossed around along with my endorphins. It's been a great inspiration and I highly recommend it for anyone, especially a writer struggling with deadlines, rejection or writer's block.
I'm also reading up on fiction-writing techniques with Laura Whitcomb's book, Novel Shortcuts, a great resource, by the way! My husband asked me last night why I looked so intense and I said I was mulling over what type of storytelling device I was going to use in my book.
His reponse, "huh?"

"A device is part point of view, part style, and part tone, but it's more than that. What makes it a device is all three of those things plus props. Props can be anything from travel tips in The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler to entomolgy lessons sprinkled throughout Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer."

In Jodi Picoult's book Handle With Care, the character of Charlotte is a pastry chef and Picoult sprinkles recipes throughout the book as a way to use baking as a metaphorical language tied to the story. You can read more about why she chose to use that storytelling device at her Web site under the heading, "Enhance your book club experience - try baking one of Charlotte's recipes!"

I always thought to write a novel I would just have to sit down and write. Now I know there is so much more to it. For me, I want all the work I put into my story to mean something, and if that means putting in the extra work to make sure I do the best job possible with the most efficient techniques, so be it. This is why so many authors write their own novels while studying for an M.F.A.

Think back on some of your favorite stories. What is the best storytelling device you've seen used?

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