I haven’t read a ton of writing manuals (it shows, Ed.), but I have a small shelf’s worth at home, and I’m always on the look-out for something that doesn’t go over the same old ground of adverbs (bad), showing not telling (good), and inciting incidents (necessary).
Anyone who admires Patricia Highsmith’s fiction will forgive her this fondness for the ‘almost incredible’ and will find these coincidences perfectly believable in the settings and atmospheres she conjures. Coincidences are stitched into the fabric of life and we have all experienced them, though perhaps not as frequently and significantly as the inhabitants of fictional worlds.
A couple of novels I read recently got me thinking about character descriptions. From my own reading, admittedly a small sample size, I have the impression that fiction writers are making their character descriptions much more frugal than used to be the case.
The novella has never been a hugely popular form. It’s often seen as a kind of in-between fiction, neither long enough to allow for satisfying character development and plotting, not brief enough to provide the concentrated impact of the best short stories. But it’s a form that I’ve always enjoyed and at its best it can combine something of the complexity of the novel with the economy of the short story
My first notion of Calypso Bergère was a kind of female Tintin, an intrepid teen-detective and adventurer inhabiting a slightly unreal, slightly indeterminate 1930s setting. But Tintin is ageless and sexless, and, to be blunt, two-dimensional.