14 October 2007

More on how much to reveal

This is really a postscript to my last post on how much to reveal. I think I mentioned that one of my published stories had been criticised because I hadn't explained one of the key points of the story, but in my mind I had left room for the reader to do the work. Of course, I'm always left wondering after such criticism whether it's the reviewer or the story or both, and usually it's likely to be both.

I used that story for an editing assignment, taking just the first two pages and introducing a range of spelling, grammatical errors and some wordiness that I wanted students to cut out. One student came up to me afterwards saying she was very keen to find out what had happened. "Clearly," she said, "the main character is one of those other beings..." Yes, yes, yes! She'd only had two pages and had drawn the conclusions I wanted her to draw (though, really, making the connection wasn't necessary to understand the story, just opened out another layer). So at least I'm left knowing that it's not completely the story at fault...

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