The unreliable narrator: definition and uses in literature

Literature offers writers and readers alike the opportunity to experiment with things that in real life usually lead to a series of unpleasant consequences.

No, I’m not speaking of explosives wired to fast-ticking timers, of psychopaths on a killing spree, or of alien hordes devastating our already half devastated world–not necessarily at least. What I’m speaking of here has to do with the well known literary trope of the narrator, or rather, the unreliable narrator.

This might look like a literary device of secondary importance, especially considering the gazillion super explosive things that authors can cook up in a book.

However, the unreliable narrator is one of those essential tools that any writer must learn to master. Indeed, to realize this is enough to remember that many of the most acclaimed works of literature worldwide exploit this literary device. Continue reading

Stylistic devices – how to end a story

how to end a storyWe humans are a bit strange, to say nothing of the dog… Sorry, sometimes I mix what I’m reading — Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) — with what I’m writing, or should be writing.

Anyway, I was saying we’re strange. For example, we tend to give a lot of importance to the way things end.

I mean, if we go on a vacation for a fortnight and then the last day it rains, we’re bound to feel a bit cheated and depressed. Instead, if it rains the first day of our vacation it rarely is a big deal.

The same goes when we have to sit through a dental procedure. Even if the dentist is a sadistic jerk, it’s not a big problem. Really, all he has to do is to let the last five minutes of the procedure go without any discomfort on our part.

Instead, even if we sat through a mostly painless procedure, but with the last five minutes spent screaming in pain, in retrospective we would tend to rate such an experience as way worse than the first.

(If you’re curious and want to read more about this phenomenon, the peak-end rule, you can check out Thinking Fast and Slow, by the Nobel prizewinner psychologist Daniel Kahneman.) Continue reading

One of the most important rules for writers

With great power also comes great responsibility. This is quite a common saying–also thanks to its popularization by the creators of Spider-Man, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

In any case, this saying is so widespread also because it’s deeply true.

rules for writers

Not just rules for writers…

To realize this we don’t need to look for superheroes fighting against super villains always only one step away from destroying the world. We can just keep our eyes open during our everyday activities.

Take traffic officers, for example. In the overwhelming majority of the cases, they behave in a professional way, irrespective of the fact they have stopped us for a routine control or to give us a ticket. Continue reading

Photography and writing — how you can use the universal language of creativity to improve your art

Wow, this time around I managed to write a title that’s almost as long as a post. I know they say to keep it short and sweet, but I wanted to make my title as descriptive as possible. So to hell with SEO and crawlers. A post should be written for readers, not for digital spiders of the web.

Photography and writing

Arts in general, an not only photography and writing share the same basic principles

Some days ago I was on Twitter doing some research for a story I’m writing. Well… to be honest, in reality I was loafing about, I was wasting time, postponing, putting things off. You get the idea.

This even if some time ago I wrote an extremely erudite and effective post–I hope not too riddled with spelling mistakes and strange turn of phrases–about how to avoid procrastination.

In any case, surfing and twitting away I came across a couple of interesting quotes.

Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own — Bruce Lee

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see — Henry David Thoreau

Then, one of my friends called me on the phone, and we had a pleasant chat about his new camera–one of those that require you to learn a lot of technical stuff just to get a barely decent result.

All this got me thinking about the way photography and writing compare one to the other and the way a writer can learn about writing principles just looking at pictures. Continue reading

Why details are important – not only in literature

This is an idiotic post, going around like a drunkard. Probably I didn’t pay enough attention to details when I wrote it. And now it’s too late.

why details are important in literatureSome days ago a friend of mine told me about a new card he had subscribed to.

It was one of those cards that reward your shopping around giving you back a usually very small percentage of the amount you spent.

My friend was adamant this card was the best thing since sliced bread. And to make his point perfectly clear he told me that you even got a one percent discount on gas–of course provided you used the right coupons and gassed up your car only in the authorized gas stations.

Noticing the glint of fanatism in my friend’s eyes, I kept my mouth metaphorically shut, and limited myself to make only vage, uncommittal remarks.

But our conversation got me thinking. Continue reading