The Grass is Black/The Air is Pink

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#Writing

The Lingerie Theory of Narration (4)

Opening and Closing The Curtain

The lingerie ad, like the short story, is neither the beginning of a striptease nor its end, but more of what occurs in the middle. The subject of the lingerie ad was once dressed and will, presumably, not be dressed at all very soon, but right now, in the picture before us, we see the subject frozen in time- in the act of disrobing.

Fiction is also a frozen moment in time. It generally catches characters in the middle of their lives, just when their habitual way of being in the world is about to give away. The playwright Edward Albee once said that the beginning of a piece of fiction is like the opening of a curtain on a scene that was already in progress before the curtain parted, and that the closing of the curtain does’nt mean the action of the story ceases, but merely that we are prevented from watching it any longer.

The challenge facing the story writer- and the model in the lingerie ad- is to imply a great deal about what happened before (“I was once dressed”) through exposition or implication (“There are my pants on the floor”) and to imply, as well, what may happen once the curtain closes again (“I will soon be undressed. See how my bra strap is slipping off my shoulder?”), but- and this is important- to always keep the reader’s attention totally and completely focused on what is happening right now.

words by Julie Checkoway
to be continued…

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