Come At Them Sideways

I was sitting in the student commons at the U of M-St. Paul campus today for lunch, eating my mac and cheese and reading The New Yorker. I was reading an article about the Norwegian architectural firm Snohetta when I came across a good metaphor that applies to writing as much as architecture (or are they really the same thing? Oooooo):

"But I think consciousness is a small part of who we are. I have a friend who had a sheepdog, and he said whenever he had a party it would herd the guests. It would tap their ankles or their knees, until, by then end of the evening, everyone in the party was in one corner. The dog was happy, but the important thing was that nobody noticed. As architects, I think, we have to try to be like the sheep dog at the party." -Craig Dykers

I think that the ability to lightly manipulate your reader, however you choose to do so, is one of those things that separates a serviceable writer from a good/great one. It takes a combination of well-done subtext, plotting that feels natural to the story you're trying to tell, and creating a character that stands alone from its author. Unless you feel like trying your hand as Charles Dickens, or being modern and annoying, an author should lurk invisibly in the background of a story like an evil wizard.

Or grand architect!


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