Yesterday I guest taught at Travis Heermann‘s literature of science fiction class at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. That was a lot of fun. I gave a very short lecture about alternate history, then we did a bit over an hour of open q-and-a. Though I do wonder when the college kids got so young?
This was a literature class, not a creative writing class, but there were a fair number of craft questions. About a third of the students are aspiring writers, so that makes sense. This got me thinking once more about the “hand of cards” theory, which I have previously discussed here: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] and elsewhere.
Basically, the “hand of cards” is the idea that all writers start out with a more or less random assortment strengths and talents. (
What I’ve never quite done is pinned down what those cards might be. The suits, as it were. I’m pretty sure we’ve had this discussion before, but I can’t find it right now, so here I throw out some ideas, and ask you guys to comment or contribute your own.
- Prose style
- Narrative voice
- Auctorial authority
- Sensory detail
- Gender/ethnic/orientation authenticity (specifically meaning: not your own default settings)
- Action sequences
- Emotional resonance
- Thematic depth
- Control of language (or possibly precision)
Some of these obviously overlap. I’m not wedded to any of them, though a number are fairly obvious. What have I missed? What have I got wrong? What would you add to the list?