Tag Archives: Nieman Storyboard

Brevity

I enjoyed a nice, compact, entry today at Nieman Storyboard from author and writing teacher, Roy Peter Clark.

Clark suggests, to fiction and nonfiction writers, the usefulness of the “Narrative Overview.”

That’s what he calls a batch of quickfire facts and descriptions: one sentence to cover decades of backstory, or fill in the color of a newly introduced character.

Citing examples from Rosalind Bentley, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Tom French, and Robert Manning (appreciating Hemingway), Clark illustrates how effective this narrative shorthand can be.

Then Clark describes his a-hah moment, when he recognized the technique, from long ago in church:

This move is everywhere, I tell you. And why not?

I suddenly realized its familiarity and utility are almost 2,000 years old, expressed in the Nicene Creed, that act of faith recited in countless vernacular languages at Mass each day by millions of Catholics across the globe.

Gotta go experiment with it now.