Story logic demands a particular kind of precision. The writer’s task can be compared to that of a photographer immersing photographic paper in a tray of developing fluid. Slowly the picture begins to develop. If the photographer removes the paper too soon, the picture she gets is a murky blur. But if she leaves it in for the “exactly right” time, she gets a photo in which every single detail is clearly delineated. The fiction writer, unlike the photographer, has to yank the paper out of that bath somewhere between these two poles, at the “inexactly right” moment when the reader can intuit whatever’s missing or blurred based on those details that have emerged in sharp relief. Because a single image can suggest so much that isn’t there on the page and exponentially more associations when we connect it to other images and to the action, patterns of imagery help writers to hint at the hidden tension enacted by plot.
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