The Black and White’s of Short Ficiton

As a writing student it is imperative to know and understand all writing techniques. Short stories do a great job of capturing certain elements of storytelling through the use of certain writing techniques.  For example, in the short story Black and White, by Lisa M. Dillman the writing techniques are used to portray feelings of loneliness, saddness, frustration and more.

Two specific techniques used in this short are metaphors and smilies. “Seated in the same place as always, yet not center stage on tonight’s set, lost in the nether regions of a time that you cannot summon, not today, because what you just discovered has suddenly altered the course of the present and deposited the future before you, like a threat.”  This usage of writing techniques helps establish a deeper connection to the reader and helps to portray the character in a clearer light.  Description is a key element in storytelling and through the use of similes and metaphors the reader becomes very familiar with what is really going on in a short story.

Another technique used in storytelling is point-of-view.  The point-of-view of Black and White is very illusive.  It gives the reader an insight to the character’s thoughts and ideas, however it refrains from letting us know what is really going on in the situation. Throughout the story we realize that what we – the reader – are reading is basically the narrator’s voice of reason/subconscious. “Two wrinkles appear on the tablecloth, and your fork is now misaligned. You don’t notice, you don’t care, you make no attempt to smooth it out with your fingers. You can only focus by tracing the length of your glass with your index finger, following the outline from the base to the rim, and then tracing the rim’s closed circle one, two, three times, like an obsession. You haven’t eaten anything, but from time to time your fingers stop, you bring the glass to your lips and feel the flow of wine, coursing down your throat like a river that sweeps everything to oblivion.”  This paragraph illustrates this idea of a subconscious as a speaker by using the word “You” instead of “I or She”.  By doing so the author has created a very direct insight to the characters thoughts and emotions making her even more vulnerable then she would seem on the outside.

Words are used to tell stories just like numbers are used to solve problems.  They all have a specific purpose and a place to belong in order to tell the story in the best way possible.

One thought on “The Black and White’s of Short Ficiton

  1. Are simile, metaphor, and POV elements of fiction you’re particularly interested in developing skill with, or are they techniques you’re familiar with finding as a reader? Did the other stories offer you anything?

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