Monday, October 7, 2013

Fine distinctions

When I was really young, I had a hard time saying "animal." About half the time, it would come out "aminal." My parents would get excited when I got it right and sound it out when I got it wrong, but I still couldn't hear the difference between the two words.

Eventually, I grew out of it.

Writing can be the same way. There are often fine distinctions between being subtle and being obscure, between writing drama and melodrama. Some literary devices are great in moderation but awkward with overuse. And it seems that every rule can be broken by the writer who does it well. Unfortunately, there aren't clear-cut rules for managing these fine distinctions, but practice and attention are valuable (if not fast) teachers.

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