Clark After Dante

I would have to say Roy Peter Clark is slightly easier to read than Dante Alighieri, and so now that my Western Literature I final is out-of-the-way, I am flying through Clark’s last 25 tools. My goal is to finish the book before heading to PA, so I am really not thinking too much about these posts–just spitting them out (no comment about any grammar mistakes!).

Since they are mostly for me to re-read later, when I can’t remember what I read already or I am putting off homework in the fall, it’s really not that important that they are interesting, so if you find they are boring, that’s perfectly alright because they probably are.

In fact, I will probably be bored with them later too.

But I would recommend the Divine Comedy–it’s not boring at all. Dante is completely underrated these days. Tough? Challenging? Deep? YES. Rewarding? Completely!

Anyway, here they are:

Tool 26 ~ Use dialogue as a form of action

“Dialogue advances a narrative; quotes delay it.”

This tool stood out to me since I’ve been writing feature articles for one of my classes. Quotations. Interesting things. Some of them are fascinating, and I don’t know if I would agree with Clark, but apparently they halt action, and they are dis-placed.

As in they don’t have a place to belong in–the happen outside of the action and outside of the place. Try reading a newspaper article and picture what the speaker is standing on. Apparently he is floating in mid-air because where he is is not relevant to the story. So it is not mentioned. Dis-placed. Yes.

If you want to understand dialogue, though, do interview people, tape it and transcribe the recordings. Clark says, “Develop your ear for dialogue. With a notebook in hand, sit in a public space, such as a mall or an airport lounge. Eavesdrop on nearby conversations and jot down some notes on what it would take to capture that speech in a story.” And honestly, it works.

Through my class, I now pick on speech so much faster than I used too. Even what comes out of my mouth. Language. So fascinating.


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