Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

magicians’ secrets October 23, 2012

I was driving home last night, listening to my audio book  (A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon), and as the story went along I was thinking, “Oh.  There she goes again, neatly fitting in a piece of back story.  That was subtly done!”  The thought must have happened at least a dozen times.

I’m on my 9th re-read (print and audio) of this particular book within this calendar year.  I’ve seen all these lines before.  I knew what she was doing the previous 8 reads, but now, having come out of a workshop  where she discussed this technique and the careful process of fitting in these references to events from earlier books, and having her comments in my blue pencil session fresh in my mind, I can hear her voice echoing along with narrator Davina Porter’s.

It’s like the end of Wizard of Oz, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

It makes it harder to read books merely for enjoyment, when you very consciously catch sight of the technique.  I suspect it also makes one pickier as a reader, since you have less tolerance for poorly executed technique.

Hopefully, it makes you a better writer, though.  You grow in knowledge.  Not just intuitive awareness, but conscious knowledge of an executed skill that must be mastered to be an effective writer.

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