Teach A Man To Fish: Difficulty and Play in Literary prose
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This essay presents a way of talking about difficulty in literary prose rooted in three different critics, and lists the main techniques writers can use to make a work more or less difficult. I look at some examples to show how some of my favorite writers use these techniques to great effect. It then argues that when writing difficult work, there are useful lessons to be learned from the practices of game designers that can help (if a writer wants to) help the reader feel pleasantly challenged rather than frustrated. Along the way, I try to explain why the difference between reader as audience and reader as player is important. This is examined in detail in the use of unreliability by J D Daniels in his essay collection ‘The Correspondence,’ and Matthew McIntosh’s use of shapelessness in his novel ‘themystery.doc’.
- English