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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Confusing the Reader

Deliberately puzzling or confusing a short story reader may keep him reading for a while, but at too great an expense. Even just an "aura" of mystery in a short story is usually just a lot of baloney. Who are these people? What are they up to? Provoking such questions from a reader can be a writer's way of deferring exposition until he feels the reader is ready for the explanation of it all. But more likely it's just fogging things up. A lot of beginning writers' fiction is like a lot of beginners' poetry: deliberately unintelligible as to make the shallow seem deep.

Rust Hills, Writing in General and The Short Story in Particular, 1987 

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